It can feel daunting to approach your boss with a workplace safety concern. But not doing so could be much worse, if the problem you’ve discovered leads to an injury – or worse.
Maybe you noticed machine guards missing, poor housekeeping or a trip or fire hazard. Or, maybe you feel your training for doing a particular task safely was inadequate. Whatever the issue, remember: You have a right to work in a safe place. And your employer is obligated to provide such an environment. But you also have to do your part and speak up, before it’s too late.
Tips for Talking Safety
Your immediate supervisor should be the first person you approach with safety concerns. If their response is unsatisfactory, you need to seek help elsewhere, from a safety rep, a shop steward or your safety manager. Follow the proper procedure and chain of command at your company.
- If someone is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate. Make an attempt to get anyone exposed to a hazard out of the situation. Pull the alarm, stop the machine … whatever it takes. Deal with everything else later, if waiting for supervisory guidance might exacerbate any potential danger.
- Don’t worry about speaking up. It’s illegal for your employer to fire you, transfer you to a less desirable position, reduce your pay or change your working conditions to make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy for raising a safety issue.
- Do your research. Make sure you’re not just complaining. Let your manager know that you’ve thought about the problem and how to correct it. For example, if you feel your co-workers are tied off to unsuitable anchor points, try and suggest better ones or propose an alternate solution, such as railings. Or, if it appears your teammates don’t understand what’s required of them from a safety perspective, suggest a better training program.
- Make sure your research is accurate and current. Sometimes, old information is superseded by new regulations or letters of interpretation. A good place to start is often gov.
- Worst-case scenario: If you find a safety hazard your employer refuses to address in a satisfactory manner, you have the right to contact OSHA directly and file a complaint. In fact, every company is required to display an OSHA poster that specifically describes how to do this. Again, you have the right and the responsibility to voice your concern without fear of retaliation.
Learning to effectively voice your concerns – especially when it comes to safety – is a key part of your growth and development as you progress along your career path. As you look to grow in your job – or if it’s time to start thinking about the next step along that journey – contact PrideStaff Fresno today. Your success is our mission.