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Accountability Leads to Accountability in Safety

A key topic for safety has continually been accountability.  Why?  Without accountability in the workplace, we cannot expect improvement to happen.  People will continue to get injured by the same hazards and by taking unsafe actions.  Accountability is a word that seems to strike fear in the minds of those who hear it.  Yet, being held and holding others accountable is how we can make the workplace safer for everyone.

Consider what being accountable means to safety:

  • Knowing and following the safety rules of the industry and the company
  • Recognizing and controlling unsafe conditions
  • Doing what you say you’ll do to keep yourself and others from harm at work
  • Asking others to hold you accountable to your safety responsibilities

Consider this – we shouldn’t be surprised when we are held accountable for our actions, since we have been held accountable in some way since we were young children.

At a very young age I can remember my mother telling me not to play in the street.  I was responsible to mind her and held accountable if I didn’t.  Teachers in grade school would give stars for helping, accomplishing a milestone, or completing a task on time.  They encouraged responsibility through accountability.  Other children wanted to play with us and become our friends if we shared our toys, played well, and became a trusted friend.  This was a way that we learned responsibility to peers.  The accountability came in the form of their positive (or perhaps negative) responses.  As we grew older accountability continued and we began to experience more negative consequences for not taking responsibility for our actions.

In a time when people talk about this being the “age of entitlement” it seems if one is willing to be held accountable it is actually an asset to their career.  You might say, “It’s not what you know, but how well you accept responsibility (which is being accountable).”  Accountability can lead to success because accountability leads to improvement.

Leaders across the country tell me how much they want to see accountability in their workplace.  They know it is the behavioral element that will make the difference in a workplace environment that is ‘stuck’ and a culture of continually improving safety.  My question to them is, “How accountable are you?”  This usually gets their attention and they seem to avoid the answer.  Do as I say, not as I do comes across loud and clear.  When a leader wants accountability, the simple answer may be in modeling accountable.

Accountability breeds response-ability. ~ Stephen R. Covey

Think about how you model accountability.

  • Do you demonstrate knowledge of and follow safety rules of the industry and the company?
  • When you don’t know the rules or how to follow them, do you ask a knowledgeable, competent person for guidance?
  • Do you personally recognize and take action to control unsafe conditions?
  • Do you do what you say you’ll do to keep yourself and others from harm at work?
  • Do you ask others to hold you accountable to your safety responsibilities?

If you are in a leadership position in your organization, ask yourself these questions.  Ask others how they would answer these questions about you.  You might have to ask a few times over the next several months to get a straight answer.  Be willing to listen to the responses.  Consider what changes you can make to become an accountable safety leader.  Leaders who take responsibility and are willing to be held accountable usually lead a group of people who have a high degree of trust.  Funny how that works…


Carl Potter is a nationally known motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, and seminar leader.  If you are looking for someone who can energize your organization to be more responsible for safety, consider booking him to deliver his most asked for presentation Who Is Responsible for Safety?

Carl has also developed his Hazard Recognition and Control Workshop to be one of the best safety education opportunities you will find.  Typically after booking Carl or one of the training consultants from the Safety Institute to deliver this workshop for review, the organization follows up by having all employees attend.  This workshop teaches employees how to be responsible for safety and encourages them to be accountable – to take action to create a workplace where it is difficult to get hurt.

For more information email Carl at:

 CLICK HERE to order Conquest for Safety: Leadership Required by Carl Potter, CSP

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