The Psychology of Safety – Don’t Blindside Your Fellow Employees

By Bob Lapidus, CSP (Retired), CSMS


Pet Peeve:  Being Blindsided

You are going about your work life minding your own business when suddenly out of the blue someone tells you that you are doing a particular task absolutely unsafely. You should have known better.

You had never had anyone previously tell you that you were doing something wrong. No one had ever taught you anything differently and you have been doing this specific task in this way for two full years in front of all your fellow employees and supervisors.

Then you learn that what you have been doing is truly dangerous and you could have been killed or severely injured.

At first you are mad that someone would blindside you. Then you are mad that no one had ever warned you, and finally after some soulful searching, you are thankful to learn what the hazard is and how to avoid it. The mad part lasted a lot longer than the feel good part. That’s not the way it should be.

We know it can take much time identifying the safety hazards built into individual tasks. One of the most successful ways of achieving success in identifying specific-task hazards is to do Job Safety Analysis (JSA). It has been and is a superb method to find out what hazards exist in your organization’s jobs. JSA is time consuming.

In larger organizations, identifying specific-task hazards could be monumental; think years. That’s okay. We are here for the long run so we work on those tasks that have already had a high frequency and/or severity of injuries and then target those tasks that have a higher potential for severe losses. Time should not stop us from using this technique.

Nevertheless, to avoid blindsiding your fellow employees, you need to:

  1. Establish expectations – What do you want your employees to do?
  2. Let them know the expectations – tell them; train them.
  3. Hold them accountable for doing what you want them to do. If they do it, recognize and praise them. If they don’t do it, coach and counsel them.
  4. If people still don’t work safely, consider removing them from the job. Once you get to discipline, it’s too late. They just don’t fit your organization or at least that particular job and what your organization wants them to do.

Just don’t blindside them. Be upfront.

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For More Information:

Go to www.safetycenter.org for more information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition. Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.