Although many companies in Ontario maintain an open-door policy on workplace safety concerns, many employees are still reluctant to come forward with their concerns. Perhaps you have noticed a few things in your own workplace that have made you stop and think twice. Maintaining a safe workplace is everyone’s responsibility, and you should never feel dismissive about your own concerns. Speaking up is the best way to protect yourself, your coworkers, and your employer in the event of a preventable accident. Here are four great reasons to speak up:
You have noticed a hazard that could cause an accident or compromise the safety of you or someone else in the workplace. Hazards aren’t necessarily obvious to everyone. Perhaps something is more apparent to you because of the type of job you do. When it comes to workplace safety, any concern is worth mentioning, no matter how big or small. Slippery floors, poor signage, bad ventilation, or neglected maintenance are just a few examples of “small concerns” that could result in big problems.
You need more information or better training on how to do your job. Safety starts with awareness and competence. If you have been asked to operate machinery or work with chemicals that are new to you, don’t feel intimidated about stepping up and asking for help. Not only will you be taking responsibility for your own safety, but you will also be taking a proactive approach to the enhancing the safety of everyone around you.
You have a suggestion that you feel would be beneficial for your workplace. Companies with 20 or more employees are required to have a Health and Safety Committee. Their role is to address complaints and suggestions to foster a safe and proactive work environment. Have a great idea that could prevent accidents? Don’t be afraid to speak to your supervisor or Health and Safety Committee.
You suspect there is something going on in the workplace that could endanger you. Are others practicing unsafe work habits or doing something that causes you to be concerned for your safety? Rather than taking it upon yourself to collect the evidence, you are probably better off letting a supervisor handle it for you. Communicate your concerns based on what you have seen or heard and provide them with the information they need to address the situation properly.
If you are unsure about your company’s policy on reporting workplace safety concerns, speak to your supervisor. Ask about the measures that are in place to handle employee feedback, and make sure that your suggestions are documented and addressed promptly. The only thing worse than a workplace accident is an accident that could have been prevented.