CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 7

newsandviews

"If You See Something, Say
Something" Applies to More
Than Homeland Security
By John W. Butts

Executive Director,
AGC of Connecticut

You've seen them. The public service advertisements
are ubiquitous urging people to report anything suspicious in public places to authorities. "If you see something, say something," the slogan goes. In theory, when
"if you see something, say something" is applied to
safety, it should help construction firms reduce incidents,
accidents, and injuries by stressing the need to watch
out for one another on a construction site.
Common sense tells us that if we see someone working
high up without fall protection, or a frayed electrical cord
lying on the floor at a work site, we need to do something
or say something about it. Yet, every day, workers witness
actions and conditions that are unsafe but somehow feel
inhibited from reporting them. Research conducted by
the RAD Group indicates that when they see something
they think is unsafe, people speak up only 39 percent
of the time. When unsafe conditions or actions occur,
why do workers say nothing approximately 61 percent
of the time? This research focused on several possible
explanations.
* The pressure to produce sometimes results in employees blocking out everything around them and may
prevent them from seeing unsafe actions or conditions.
* Employees who see an unsafe condition or action may
wait to say something to a supervisor or co-worker
until they finish the task they are working on.
* Employees may be reluctant to speak up to their supervisors or "the boss."
* The "bystander effect" suggests that the more people
there are, the less likely we are to speak up. We assume
someone else will do it.
It's hard to know all the barriers that prevent employees from saying something, but studies confirm that

pressure to produce is a primary reason for employees
not taking action when they observe unsafe situations.
Forty percent of employees in a study conducted by the
National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health
(NIOSH) also indicated that they felt impossible production pressures to some degree. The study showed that as
workers' sense of pressure to produce increases, so does
their risk tolerance which may explain their willingness to
overlook unsafe conditions or actions.
The NIOSH research showed that employees are sometimes reluctant to report something if they believe their
supervisors would not listen to them. Indeed, in the study
results, 33 percent of hourly workers felt they could not
question safety rules or procedures. Supervisors who
believe their only role is to meet production demands will
probably be less sensitive to listening to members of their
team who might be inclined to report unsafe conditions.
Overcoming this reluctance to report unsafe conditions
by front-line workers requires strong leadership - at all
levels - and constant proactivity. Construction safety
professionals can't be everywhere so they have to work
with supervisors and front-line workers to be the eyes
and ears of a safe construction site. Employees need to
know and believe it is not about "snitching" on someone
or being a "tattletale." Nor is it about blaming or pointing
fingers. Successful programs push the responsibility
for safety down, bringing about a team effort approach.
Employees should feel supported and encouraged to
speak up when they see an unsafe situation or unsafe
co-worker behavior. Safety experts recommend that companies consider conducting an evaluation of their safety
culture to see if something they are doing is somehow
stifling employee proactivity.
In addition, companies must also look at how they educate employees about their safety policies, and whether
or not those policies include e supporting employees who
step up when circumstances require it. If employees know
they can approach their co-workers or supervisors and
freely disclose safety concerns, without fear of retaliation
or losing their jobs, positive changes in the culture and
proactivity in the workplace will follow.
CONNstruction / WINTER 2018 / 7



CONNstruction - Winter 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Winter 2018

Fleet Tracking with Telematics
Don’t Let Vibration Damages Shake You
Trenching and Excavation Safety
Preventing Runovers and Backovers in Work Zones and Construction Sites
If OSHA Knocks, How Do You Respond?
Diggers Mixers Fixers Golf Outing
2018 AGC/CT Industry Recognition Dinner
Connecticut Road Builder Association Dinner
YCF Yard Goat Baseball/BBQ & Fall Membership Meeting
OSHA-CCIA-ConnOSHA Annual Safety Alliance Conference & Press Conference
A Blue Light for Safety
“If You See Something, Say Something” Applies to More Than Homeland Security
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - Intro
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - cover1
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - cover2
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 3
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 4
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 5
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - A Blue Light for Safety
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - “If You See Something, Say Something” Applies to More Than Homeland Security
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - Fleet Tracking with Telematics
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 9
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 10
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 11
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - Don’t Let Vibration Damages Shake You
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 13
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - Trenching and Excavation Safety
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 15
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 16
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 17
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - Preventing Runovers and Backovers in Work Zones and Construction Sites
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 19
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 20
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 21
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - If OSHA Knocks, How Do You Respond?
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 23
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 24
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 25
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - Diggers Mixers Fixers Golf Outing
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 2018 AGC/CT Industry Recognition Dinner
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - Connecticut Road Builder Association Dinner
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - OSHA-CCIA-ConnOSHA Annual Safety Alliance Conference & Press Conference
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - 30
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - cover3
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - cover4
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - outsert1
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - outsert2
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - outsert3
CONNstruction - Winter 2018 - outsert4
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