Speak up against unsafe co-workers

When you see a family member doing something unsafe, do you speak up and tell them?
For those of you who have children, can you remember telling them don’t do that, look both ways when you cross the street, don’t talk to strangers, don’t touch, that’s hot, etc.
But what about your co-workers in your workplace? When you see something unsafe, or witness someone working in an unsafe manner, do you speak up? Or, do you turn a blind eye and look away?
Remember, people may not be aware they are working in an unsafe manner, or of a specific hazard in the area.
A few years ago, I was working in an industrial manufacturing plant, where maintenance workers were waiting for another worker to finish washing up an area.
A maintenance worker was walking by when some soap and water sprayed onto him. I saw what happened, and immediately went up to him and told that the soap was corrosive to the eyes and skin.
I stressed that it was important for him to wash his body, and change his clothes. I also told him to wash his wet clothes separately from any other clothing.
He looked at me and said, “Thanks, Tyler, I didn’t know that!”
Workplace safety and the role it plays in workers’ lives depend on many things, including their attitude. All of us need to learn how to protect ourselves—and co-workers—from the potential injury hazards that can strike at any given time.
We all need to be reminded to be responsible, to think, and to make time for safety!
True, it is very uncomfortable at times to approach someone and tell them that they are not working in a safe manner. Perhaps you need to remind them that they need to wear their personal protective equipment.
Or maybe all you have to do it make them aware of the hazards in the area.
As a worker, you may have been on the receiving end of someone telling you that you are not working safely. “Hey buddy, shouldn’t that ladder be tied off?” “Hold on, I’ll help you lift that!” “Shouldn’t you shut that off and lock it out before sticking your hands near there?” “Shouldn’t you be wearing goggles when using that air hose?” “Hey, can you pick up those hoses. Someone is going to trip on them!”
When someone corrects you, do you go on the defensive and strike back, feeling you’re being criticized? Just remember, if someone cares enough to speak up, they care enough about your safety—and the safety of others.
All of us need to take responsibility for our actions. Focus on the safety message, not the messenger. Remember, in the workplace . . . we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper!
Everyone can learn to work safely. Sparking an interest in safety early on in a worker’s career can lead to a life-long appreciation for injury prevention and how it affects our daily lives.
Everyone owes it to themselves, and their families, to work safely. Every time a worker is injured or killed by something that could have been prevented, everyone suffers . . . children, parents, friends, co-workers, and entire communities.
Remember, if you never need what you learn about personal safety, you have lost nothing. But if you never learn what you need, you may lose everything . . . your family and your life!
Safety—it starts with you!
Tyler J. Moffitt served with the OPP as well as 15 years as a firefighter and emergency responder.

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