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Communicating Safety: Working Through Issues with Others

Safety is not difficult to figure out on paper.  If you take human emotions and opinions out of an industrial site and just have logical machines that operate without fail and do exactly what they are designed to do, nobody gets hurt.  But the truth is that since the start of the industrial age we have been dealing with the reality that people make mistakes.  Improved communications is critical to overcoming mistakes and overcoming differences of opinion on the worksite is a key issue.

Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress. – Mahatma Gandhi

I can remember when I was running jobs for the power company and had been assigned others to help me, it seemed everyone on the crew had a better way to do the job.  In addition, I am a nice guy and the guys I worked with were like my brothers after many years of working together.  But, we still got on each other’s’ nerves.  If you are working with people, there will be issues that make working together difficult.

The real trick to getting a job done safely is to get along and settle differences between co-workers.  Otherwise, the differences can cause a devastating silence among co-worker who see a situation that could lead to injury and choose not to say anything.  This type of silence can be a serious issue in high-risk work environment and must be eliminated.

Using the following tips can help to resolve issues:

  • When you notice the issue of an unsafe condition or behavior that concerns you, speak up immediately.
  • Clearly and calmly state the facts (what you observe) about the issue and avoid presenting your opinion.  Opinions are based on values and emotions rather than facts.
  • Together, look at the facts as you both see them and discuss actions that would resolve the issue.  It may sound like a lot of work to get others’ viewpoints, but it tends to lead to better decisions.  Better decisions can prevent injuries.

When we have issues that prevent us from bringing up unsafe conditions or behaviors on the job site, the safety culture suffers.  If issues go unresolved they tend to get worse and not better.  Take the time to consider if you are practicing good communications that resolves issues and improves your workplace safety culture.  Keep in mind that the goal is to create a workplace where it is difficult to get hurt.

Thanks, and Be Safe!

Carl Potter, CSP


Invitation to a training opportunity…

On December 1st, 2015 I will be conducting my Hazard Recognition and Control Workshop in Dallas Texas near the DFW airport.  I hope you will consider attending to learn and network with other safety minded individuals.  You can learn more about this opportunity at:

You may also want to consider making my online version of the Hazard Recognition and Control Workshop available to your workforce.  Information about the online version is available at


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