Raising a workplace safety concern with your boss can sometimes seem like a daunting prospect. Not doing so, however, can mean a dangerous incident goes unresolved, potentially injuring you or your workmates.
It could be something like a machine missing protective guards, dangerous movement of plant, poor housekeeping posing a trip hazard or speaking up if you see someone being bullied. Or perhaps you feel that your training for a particular task was inadequate or you need more help to do it safely.
Whatever the issue, it’s important to remember that every worker has a right to work in fair, just and safe workplaces. Your employer is obligated (as far as is reasonably practicable) to provide such an environment, but you still have to do your bit and speak up before it’s too late.
In most workplaces, your first port of call would be flagging a safety concern with a supervisor, health and safety or union representative. You might feel intimidated or awkward, but the few minutes it takes to talk – and hopefully find a solution – is nothing compared to the impact of an injury.
Here are a few tips for talking safety:
- Before anything goes wrong, ask how a health and safety issue should be raised. Your boss may have a hazard reporting procedure in place.
- Be positive and speak out of concern for you and your co-workers’ safety.
- Be polite, respectful and avoid confrontational words.
- Try not to put the boss on the spot.
- Don’t blame your co-workers.
- Keep your body language in check – for example, don’t cross your arms or point your finger.
- If possible, suggest a potential solution for the problem you have raised.
Remember it’s against the law to be fired for raising a work health and safety issue.
Your boss may end up thanking you, as a safer and healthier workplace is one that is more profitable through reduced absenteeism, productivity and compensation claims. Plus workers will be happier knowing the boss is watching their backs so they can go home safe to loved ones every day.
Get some more tips and advice at safework.nsw.gov.au or call us on 13 10 50.