Approach people with a positive demeanor
If you come across someone looking angry or have a look of consternation, the person will get defensive before you even say a word. If it’s not a serious infraction and the person is not a repeat offender, then the approach can be a bit different. Certainly anything that involves a person’s safety is a serious matter, but remember that your goal is to change a behavior, not dish out punishment. If the people you speak with enjoy your visit – or at least don’t mind it – you’re more likely to accomplish that goal.
Don’t raise your voice
When you yell at someone, they’ll pay more attention to your volume than what you’re saying. Even if a serious infraction is involved, stay calm and keep your voice at a normal level. That way, what you say and the instructions you give are going to have a greater impact. Safety directors manage many incident investigations involving serious violations, and gaining information is much more productive when people are spoken to in a nicer tone.
Let them tell their story first
Even if the person is wrong, let them explain why they are violating a safety rule before you tell them to stop it. You can use what they said constructively to frame your response. Many people will come up with excuses for infractions, but it is important to allow a person to explain their position. The result is positive; they are more likely to listen because they felt as if their supervisor listened to them.
You also can ask them if you can do anything that will help them work safer next time. For example, if they are not using the correct type of ladder, it may be that enough ladders aren’t available or that they’re stored in a remote location. That’s a situation you may be able to change. The more information you obtain the better possibility the safety problem can be resolved.
Give plenty of praise
Most times when you come upon a work site, you’ll find more positive than negative. If you notice the positive behaviors and praise people often, discipline is easier to accept for people since the overall environment is favorable and positive for people.
In many cases, it is best to take a second to remove, re-engage, and stay positive!
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