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Catch someone working safely this Christmas

It’s Christmas! A time for peace on earth and goodwill to all men and women. A time for being merry and getting on with each other: something we should remember when it comes to safety and health in the workplace.

Don’t worry; this isn’t another reminder about the hazards associated with having a good time: risk assessing the office party, checking the electrics on the Christmas lights or not over-doing it with the sherry trifle. This is much simpler.

It’s a great time of year for us all to be a little bit less miserable about safety

Life can be depressing enough without constantly measuring our failures (accidents) and only talking to people when they’ve done something wrong. Most of your workforce spend most of their time working well, they follow procedures, use the right tools, wear the right kit and look out for each other. So why don’t we just give them a break – let’s concentrate on the positive for once.

We all appreciate it when someone recognises that we’re doing a good job and that should include doing a safe job. And don’t give me the feeble argument that says “they’re supposed to be working safely – that’s what they get paid to do!”.
Hands raised with thumbs up
It’s true but you still like it when someone says thanks.

Be careful not to overdo it

We mustn’t praise the trivial and most importantly, we must be sincere. If you don’t really mean it then don’t say it because it’ll be obvious that you don’t.

This approach of positive reinforcement (praise and recognition for safe behaviours) is so much more effective than negative reinforcement (punishment and criticism for the unsafe).

Whilst negative reinforcement may discourage unsafe behaviour it will rarely encourage the safe. This is likely to result in people choosing the safe option when they fear the effects of getting caught. How many people do you see slowing down as they drive past a speed camera only to speed up again once they’re past it?

Spread a little festive cheer

Break with tradition and be nice to people – get out into the workplace and see if you can’t catch someone working safely this Christmas time. And when you do catch them be sure to let them know about it!

Merry Christmas.

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