Human Error - Responding Effectively to Irrational and Unsafe Choices

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Here's what to do when your people make irrational and unsafe choices.

Humans are not always rational creatures. We can be very impulsive, and sometimes we act as though we're much more interested in short-term results than long-term value. Below is an example of someone focused on a short-term effect and how you can keep them safe and show that you care.

An Example Of Shortsighted Behavior:

Someone on your crew figures he'll "save time" by not taking a few minutes to walk across the job site to get the stepladder he needs to do his next task. Instead, he climbs onto a 5-gallon pail balanced on two cinder blocks to reach his work.

There are lots of ways you could respond. Some are more productive than others. Below is an example of the steps you should take to address unsafe behaviors. 

1. Ask And Explain Why 

When he's safely on the floor, and you have his complete attention, take a moment to make a few points. Tell him that it's his responsibility to follow job site safety rules. Explain that the rules are in place to keep him from getting hurt. Tell him that you care about him and don't want him to get hurt. Remind him that his family depends on him not to get hurt.

2. Ask Them to Use a Stepladder to Finish The Job

Remind him that his quick, irrational, and unsafe choice to use the 5-gallon pail instead of a stepladder could have had dire, long-term consequences. If he had fallen and injured his back, he could have been off work for a long time, which would have had real and negative consequences for him and his family.

3. You're Not Finished. What's Next? 

You may be surprised at how safe behaviors improve when you acknowledge safe behavior and thank your crew for doing the right thing and doing it the right way. Thank him for switching to the stepladder. You could build even more goodwill by asking his opinion on whether the necessary tools, supplies, and materials could be stored in a more convenient location.

How To Show You Value And Care For Each Crew Member

Let your team know that you are personally invested in their safety. They may be too tough to show, but they'll appreciate knowing you care. Having weekly safety meetings is a valuable resource for your crew to ensure their safety. Sign up for a free 4-week trial of Weekly Safety Meetings here!