How to Address a Safety Concern on The Construction Site
How and when to bring safety concerns to an employer’s attention may not be an easy decision to make. Not knowing how the concern will be received or how it will be addressed can leave an employee feeling uncertain and vulnerable. No one wants to feel that their observations may be dismissed or overlooked, yet when safety is the issue, many people can be affected by a concern if it is not reported.
Depending on the nature of the safety issue being reported, there are two main points to consider: if the hazard does not present immediate danger, there is time to consider how to bring your concerns to the attention of your boss. If the safety issue presents an immediate danger or threat to anyone’s safety or their life, the concern needs to be addressed immediately. Here are some suggestions on how to proceed when reporting a safety concern.
Think it Through
Before you report the problem, make sure you have thought about what the exact concerns are. A supervisor may feel that the problem may have been easily fixed without having it brought to his attention. If you have determined that the issue cannot be easily fixed, think of some suggestions that could assist in rectifying the problem before you bring it to the attention of anyone else.
Follow the Chain of Command
Talk with your immediate supervisor first and let them have the opportunity to fix the problem. If the supervisor’s response is unsatisfactory, you may need to take your concern elsewhere. It could mean addressing the problem with a safety manager. This provides an opportunity for the safety manager to check out the concern and approach the supervisor without involving you in the process. If there are no safety supervisors, find an ally and discreetly let them know about your observations…they may be able to think of another way to approach the situation.
Approach management in a cooperative manner. Avoid making accusations which will only elicit negative reactions. Let your boss know that you have given the issue thought and that you are concerned. Offer solutions and let your employer know that you will help in correcting the situation.
Be Certain Your Facts Are Correct
If you are uncertain, do research before you report the problem. Safety standards change and you want to ensure that your complaint is valid with current standards. If you are informed that the problem is compliant with the law, accept this explanation.
Know Your Rights
If your concerns are not addressed and you have exhausted your options, you may have to report the concern to a governing authority. Before you take this step, ensure that you have reported it to the appropriate people and be sure that what you are asking for is right. No one wants to be perceived as a problematic employee, but standing by your convictions may be instrumental in saving someone’s life.