It can be hard at times to make your voice feel heard at work, especially if you’re the low man on the totem pole. However, if you know certain things are being done incorrectly or if your safety is at risk, you need to learn to speak up! Make your voice heard with these tips. Remember, if no one speaks up, nothing will improve.
Flag that Most Accidents Are Avoidable
OSHA releases an annual report detailing the top 10 most common safety citations. There is a lot to learn from these common concerns. The trend of easily avoidable accidents occurring time and again is unsettling, particularly because more than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year in the U.S., and about 3 million are injured. The top 10 citations rarely change, so the best thing to do is for workers to learn from and understand how to avoid the mistakes of others. Suppose you see a safety hazard or know that there are avoidable risks being taken, flag that to leadership. Make sure that safety issues are visible to those higher up (and document that communication). You never know, you might save a life.
Help Identify Risks
Risks can run the gamut, depending on your workplace and the individual situation. But there are some obvious ones that are more common than others. Falls, for example are among the leading causes of worker deaths and injury across the board. Citations are often due to a lack of simple fall protection such as floor hole covers, guard rail and toe-boards for elevated open-sided platforms, safety harness and lines, nets, and handrails. These simple actions protect workers from falls, but only if employers and employees take the issue seriously. That means helping identify risks. While it might seem like sticking your neck out when you help identify and mitigate risks, you are actually doing your business and its leaders a big favor.
Another common risk in more industrial settings can include machine guarding violations. The accidents that happen from a lack of protection are severe, like bodily injury and death. The consequences of bad practices around heavy working equipment are severe. Nobody wants to get hurt or see someone they work with hurt. That’s why it’s so important to speak up even if no one else has.
Communicate Your Concerns
If you do notice any such safety violations as the ones mentioned above or any others that come to mind, you should consider it your responsibility to bring it up to your supervisor. Then if no action is taken, raise the issue to more senior leadership. Risk communication is another often-cited hazard from OSHA’s annual report. If you feel that your communication of bad practices puts you at risk of retaliation (which it shouldn’t), then make sure you document your communication. Involve others in the communication of your concerns as well. Don’t shy away from doing the right thing because no one else has spoken first.
If you are evaluating whether it’s worth it to blow the whistle, then that’s not a company you should be working for anyway. Communicate your concerns to those who are able to make a difference. Remember that safety is and should be considered everyone’s responsibility, so communicating risk and hazard recognition should be a top priority. If you feel unsafe on the job, say something. You are protected as a whistleblower, so speak up and make the changes you need in your work environment.
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