People sheltering under an umbrella

A decade ago at Heathrow Airport I spoke to a ceiling erector called Peter and asked him if he would say anything if he saw someone from another trade (or sub contractor) using old fashioned step ladders for access instead of podium steps.

He sucked his teeth and replied “you just don’t do that on a construction site.” It was more heartening this week to see a pair of Tyco employees wearing Hi Viz jackets with the legend “stop me if I am doing anything unsafely” emblazoned on the back. Things move on.

So how do we achieve the grail?

It’s a tough one. The process begins with the management team demonstrating, by carrying out frequent safety discussions themselves, that talking about safety in this organisation is OK, is valued and is worthwhile. The workforce will also require training workshops to establish:

  • The likelihood of injury within the organisation and the reality of serious injury at work
  • The personal price of not intervening
  • How to intervene without causing offence

Training has to be carried out throughout the organisation to ensure that everyone has permission to intervene without embarrassment. Mentoring can also be an important step forward. Ideally managers should partner with a member of the workforce whenever they carry out safety discussions to take the fear out of peer engagement.

Members of your workforce should be prepared to step in when another puts themselves at risk. This is the holy grail of behaviour based safety approaches – a workforce that can be relied upon to monitor their own safety.