Sign saying Goggles Must Be Worn

Safety violations should always be taken seriously. There’s at least one in every crowd—someone who ignores the safety rules and does their own thing. They’ll say they don’t have time to enact your safety protocols. Or they don’t like the way the safety equipment feels on their head. Or it impedes their vision. The problem is that safety must be a priority for all companies—the risk of an injured employee is too costly and too great to let an insubordinate employee get away with safety violations. Not to mention that those sloppy, unsafe habits become contagious and soon, the majority of your team will be doing the same thing. Here’s how to prevent a stubborn employee from getting away with safety violations.  

Safety Violations are avoidable

You need to do a good job of communicating appropriate, safety protocol to your team. This means direct training when you first hire someone, regular follow-up sessions with your team to make sure everyone’s hearing the same thing routinely, and distributing written communication—posters, brochures, memos, emails—as frequently as needed. If you do it too much, it becomes white noise and your team won’t hear any of it, but just routinely enough to show that you’re serious: safety needs to be a priority.  

Set a good example

But do more than just talk the talk. Walk the walk! Make sure the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is readily available to all employees. Follow all safety procedures and wear the right equipment when you need to. If your team sees that you’re not taking safety seriously yourself, they won’t take it seriously either and you won’t have very much room to lecture them about it.  

Get your supervisors onboard

You can’t walk by obvious safety violations without saying anything. And neither can your other supervisors and managers. Get them on board with confronting your employees who aren’t working safely and equip them with the words to use when they do confront them. 

Incentivize people

Stay open-minded when it comes to safe practices. Reward your team for coming up with new ideas to be safe and for working in a safe manner. If it helps, reward that one insubordinate employee when he or she does something right—a certificate for ten consecutive days of wearing the proper safety equipment the right way, for example. Praise the behavior and recognize a valiant effort.  

Punish the behavior

Document safety violations along the way. Each time you or another manager confronts an employ, put it in writing. Each time the employee doesn’t operate safely, put it in writing. Be specific and make sure you’re commenting on the behavior, not the character of the employee. Give them a chance to change, but if they continue unsafe practices, you’ll have to punish them as your company permits.  

Need More Safety Tips?

Safety certainly isn’t the most glamorous thing in the world, but it must be a priority. The risk of an employee injuring themselves, another employee, a customer, or destroying a piece of equipment is too great. Not only are those mistakes costly, they can damage your reputation and make your employees fear for their safety. If they feel unsafe, your turnover rate is likely to skyrocket.

For more tips on encouraging the safest habits with your employees, check out our Workplace Safety blog roll.  

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