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Safety Communication

By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Three-way communication is a technique used to ensure the reliable transfer of safety information in dangerous situations like confined space entry or working at heights. With these tasks, human error or poor communication may lead to serious injuries or fatalities. Use three-way communication when providing and receiving critical information in error likely situations, directing equipment operations with dangerous tasks, and instructing others when they are performing high-risk jobs. As an example, mountain climbers regularly use three-way communication with each other using carabiners to ensure they are properly tied off so that they don’t fall off the mountain. They are continually checking, verifying,

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Effective communication is a cornerstone of strong safety cultures. Leaders who provide safety feedback with empathy and respect create a true learning culture centered on trust. Unfortunately, some leaders develop maladaptive communication patterns which weaken their leadership skills. Four key communication patterns for leaders are explained below. Only one, empathic communication, is ideal. Dominant Communication Style The Dominant communication style is characterized by overbearing, inconsiderate feedback. Dominant communicators often believe: “I am seldom if ever wrong,” “My opinions supersede yours,” and “People who disagree with me are either disloyal or misinformed.” These beliefs lead to these negative behaviors from

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By Eduardo Lan Many organizations seek world-class safety performance, which is the result of robust safety systems, effective safety leadership, and a safety culture that elevates individual safety awareness, accountability, and ownership. An important part of this, particularly as it pertains to safety leadership, has to do with both psychological safety and straight talk. Defined by Simon Sinek, “as an environment created by leaders in which people feel safe enough to speak up without any fear of humiliation or retribution (Sinek, 2021),” psychological safety is brought about through caring leadership. Psychological Safety Unleashes Discretionary Effort When we feel safe with others, particularly our leaders, we let our guard

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By Eduardo Lan Safety moments are quite common in organizations with an established safety program. These begin some meetings with the intent of focusing on safety, elevating its importance and ownership. Usually, a recent safety incident is reviewed, statistics are shown, or a general message around safety is presented. Unfortunately, these safety moments don´t always generate the level of engagement required to make them meaningful, wasting a precious chance to drive the desired safety culture and sometimes even diminishing its importance in the minds of those attending. Call to Action: To elevate the importance and ownership of safety, we must involve people in a

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Providing effective peer feedback for safety is one of the best ways to prevent serious injuries and fatalities. Employees understand the job and generally know when someone is putting themselves at risk. Plus, supervisors and managers aren’t always around when people are doing something dangerous.   Unfortunately, giving and receiving peer-to-peer safety feedback can be difficult. Employees may be reluctant to give safety feedback because they’ve never done it before, think it’s a supervisor’s or EHS’s job, lack confidence in their ability to provide good feedback, or worry that employees will be offended. Too many people take safety

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By Eduardo Lan Creating a safe workplace has a lot to do with redirecting people's risky behaviors toward safer decisions and actions, which in turn produce safer outcomes. This is achieved, in part, by having policies and procedures, as well as other systems, that make it clear for people what is expected of them. The other crucial element is effective leadership. Together they foster a safe work culture. Redirecting people's behavior is an integral part of a leaders responsibility. However, doing so is neither comfortable nor easy, and thus many leaders avoid this responsibility or do so unskilfully, failing to change the

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