Don’t Assume Anything!

Main Points: Do managers and supervisors assume their employees know how to do their jobs safely? What we have here, as the famous line from the movie “Cool Hand Luke” goes, is a failure to communicate. Do workers, meanwhile, assume that their bosses know about job risks and would not have them do anything that endangered their safety? Don’t assume anything when it comes to safety. For example: Don’t assume safety is taken care of just because we have a written EHS program. We are all apart of turning these words into actions. Don’t assume safety is under control because we’ve given someone the responsibility of it. We all need to take responsibility for “walking the walk”, by reporting hazards and near misses to EHS. Don’t assume your fellow employees know what to do because they’ve attended safety meetings, seen safety videos, or received some training. “It’s okay to remind me to be safe!” Look out for risk behaviors that people exhibit and let them know that there is a safer, more effective way, to get the job done. Don’t assume experienced workers aren’t at risk. We often worry about young inexperienced workers getting hurt, but often experienced workers who become complacent or take short cuts are at just as great a risk. Don’t assume other people will report workplace hazards. People usually know where the dangers lie, but often won’t report them for fear of being labeled a troublemaker or they assume that it’s someone else job to report it. Don’t assume the workplace has been checked for all safety risks. Often office and field inspections overlook or fail to identify specific workplace hazards. Don’t assume that an incident investigation gets at the true causes of safety problems. Managers and supervisors can make the mistake of focusing on immediate causes — dangerous conditions and employee mistakes — not root causes, such as problems in the management system. While immediate causes are important, the key to avoiding a reoccurrence is resolving the root issue which is often a procedural glitch. Don’t assume someone else will take responsibility for safety. “Passing the buck” has never gotten anything done efficiently! We all play a major role in the team vision of “zero recordable injuries”. A hand full of people cannot insure the safety of all. Don’t assume that just because it’s the year 2005, and we live in the most technically advanced society in the world that we have “the bull by the horns”! People are still being seriously injured and worse in our offices and on our sites. Technology is not the key solution here, human knowledge and behaviour are. What do you assume about safety, as an employee, as a supervisor, as a manager? Check it out. You might be in for a surprise.