Who sees more unsafe behavior on the job, the line manager, the SH&E manager or workers? As one occupational physician says (on condition of anonymity), "The guys on the floor see more violations than all the managers combined. But, they don’t always report them."
With due respect to managers everywhere, it would be hard to argue otherwise. Whenever risky behavior occurs on the job, a coworker often is in the best position to see it. Whether it is a power plant engineer without ear protection or a crane operator who is talking on his cell phone or an accountant walking down stairs with his arms full, his/her behavior is most likely to be observed by a colleague. Yet, these observations often fail to result in constructive peer-to-peer feedback and, consequently, in safer behavior.
Is this true because employees do not care about safety? Is it because workers do not care about other workers? Is it because they just do not value their own observations? In most cases, the answers are no, no and no. Instead, the most typical answer is that they do not want to start an argument. Unfortunately, for many people, feedback is just as likely to result in unwanted conflict as improved behavior. This lack of communication is unfortunate because without feedback, risky behavior is likely to continue.
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