Page 14 - Alabama 811 Magazine 2022 Issue 2
P. 14

Enforcement Spelled
This subject matter is a “no- brainer”! Just consider the consequence of you driving through an intersection and the car approaching from the left fails to stop at the red light as you are driving through it. Consequence – a serious injury or even death.
The end result may have been safer, if there had been a police car present. It stands to reason though that police are not able to be present at every intersection to enforce the rule.
Yes, safety rules are designed to keep everyone safe. But rules only work when people follow the rules. Let’s assume for discussion, the driver at fault saw the stop light, but didn’t follow the “stop” rule. People frequently fail to follow safety rules. The fact is, all of us must depend upon a network of people to help keep us safe and they depend upon us. This brings us to the subject of accountability as enforcement is simply a different spelling.
It is unfortunate that accountability has received a bad rap, because I’ve asked people participating in training on this subject if accountability has a positive or negative connotation, more than half of them respond – it has a negative connotation associated with disciplinary actions.
Let me ask you? What do you do when you see someone working “unsafely”
By Larry Cole, PhD. TeamMax
whether it is covered by a safety rule or not? It is your responsibility to hold the person accountable and do what is necessary to be safe. Why
is that so negative? What if you observe a workplace issue that needs a safety procedure? Keep quiet
about it, because you don’t want another safety procedure? Or, exhibit personal accountability to let the safety personnel know what you have observed?
I hope that you would want someone to hold you accountable should you be observed about to commit an unsafe act. My wife continues to be my accountability buddy when we’re driving in a new community and she senses that I don’t see the stop sign. That’s a good thing!
I want to encourage you to think that accountability is a TEACHING TOOL to help people use the necessary behaviors to be safe whether it’s enforcing a safety procedure or acting in an unsafe manner regardless of safety procedures.
Let me emphasize that everyone is a valued member of the safety team at home and at work. Being that member requires us to teach our team members 1) how to work safely and 2) interrupt them when they are about to step- across that safety line. What would you do if you saw your child or grandchild
about to complete an unsafe act? I know you would correct their behavior. That’s exhibiting compassion through teaching and that’s exactly what each of us must do at the worksite.
There is another point that needs considered. Would you correct a child by saying — “Don’t do such a stupid thing!” Hopefully not — I bet you would take a moment to explain the hazard and how to be safer. Yes, it’s easy for us to assume that adults should accept adult language. BUT remember, adults are children in adult clothing and there is a need to consider adult’s feelings as we do our children.
How many of us have witnessed employees hiding an “unsafe” act from those responsible for working safely to avoid repercussions? All of us have and that’s my point — as a teacher we use a positive accountability voice and words to help everyone work safely instead of punishing.
In closing — What would the workplace be like if every employee asks other employees to hold them accountable to work safely? A good thing or a bad thing?
Larry Cole, Ph.D., is founder of TeamMax a consulting company that helps people work together. Please send questions and/or comments to Larry at
12 • Alabama 811 2022, Issue 2

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