Safety Talks

There is a long list of possibilities for what can contribute to or cause a workplace injury. Unsafe conditions and unsafe acts are often the root cause of why injuries occur. Unsafe acts, especially, are a huge factor in the majority of workplace injuries.

An estimated 80 out of 100 people who are involved in an incident are at fault for it. In this safety talk, we have five common contributing factors to workplace injuries.

Five Contributing Factors:

  1. Distractions- There are many distractions that can take away focus from the work task at hand. These distractions can be in our actual work environment, such as clutter or noise, or a mental distraction. Mental distractions stemming from what is going on in our home life can serve as a huge disruption to getting tasks done safely at work.
  1. Complacency- Many workers do the same tasks over and over for many years. Because of this familiarity with their work, complacency can set in. Complacency leads to taking shortcuts or not following normal work procedures. When this occurs, an injury is more likely to occur on the job.
  1. Poor Housekeeping- Housekeeping is a major issue in some workplaces. Poor housekeeping leads to many different hazards. Some common injuries include slips, trips, falls, lacerations, sprains, and strains. A lack of housekeeping often is a signal that there are larger safety issues at hand.
  1. Poor Preplanning- The lack of planning leads to a huge number of issues. When the hazards of a new task are not evaluated prior to work beginning, hazards are going to be left uncontrolled. This leaves employees at risk for injury. Poor preplanning can also lead to issues with not having the correct equipment, tools, materials, personnel, and training for the work, as well as a lack of time to get the job done. All of these issues have their own unique safety implications.
  1. Taking Shortcuts- A major unsafe act that results in many workplace injuries is taking shortcuts. There are various reasons why a worker takes a shortcut, but eventually, enough safety shortcuts will lead to a workplace injury.

Effective communication is critical to every aspect of a successful job. Being able to work safely especially relies on effective communication between everyone involved in a work task or on a jobsite. Effective communication requires having honest conversations, which includes bringing up and discussing issues as they arise.

There are an endless amount of possible scenarios of when you should speak up and have an honest conversation to address an issue. Below are some general examples of when you need to stop and communicate an issue to get it resolved prior to continuing on.

  • When you see someone working unsafely.
  • When you do not have the proper training or knowledge to do the task at hand.
  • When you do not have the right tools or personnel to complete the task correctly.
  • When a safeguard is not implemented.
  • When a hazard is present that could injure you or others.

How to Go About Communicating Issues

  • Take the time to have the conversations that need to be had to correct the situation.
  • Involve the right personnel in discussions.
  • If someone is working unsafely, stop and have a respectful conversation about it. If you do not feel comfortable approaching them, approach a supervisor.
  • Follow-up conversations, if necessary, to ensure the situation was resolved and measures are being taken, so it does not occur again.
  • If necessary, ensure that others outside the immediate work group are informed of the issue and/or the corrective actions of the situation that occurred. For example, an investigation report or lessons learned report may be necessary to inform others in the company, so a similar incident does not occur again.

Proper communication is crucial for a job to run safely and efficiently. When communication is insufficient or missing totally, there can be many adverse consequences for employees and the company as a whole. Recognizing the safety communication tools for work tasks and the work environment is important to ensure the proper messages are being received.

When someone says communication, the first thing you may think about is speaking words to another person or sending an email. These are just two ways to communicate, but there are many more ways found at work. Some other examples of communication and safety messages include posters, labels, warnings, bulletins, pictograms, JSAs, SOPs, body language, etc.

Depending on any number of factors, each of these tools of communication can be very critical to help improve workplace safety.

Effective communication and safety go hand in hand. If there is no communication for a given work task, then safety is also missing. Some common tools for communicating a safety message:

  • Training is a way to communicate how to do a task and how to do it safely and is one of the first methods of communication used when preparing for a work task.
  • JSAs are important tools to communicate the steps of a job task, the associated hazards of each step, and the mitigation actions to be able to work safely.
  • Safety meetings and workplace safety communications or toolbox talks discussing work tasks and the associated hazards of the work are very important for work crews. Paying attention to the safety meeting information and safety protocols can protect you during your work task that day or sometime in the future.
  • Labels are found on almost every piece of equipment, tool, and chemical in the workplace. Manufacturers put these health and safety information labels on for a reason. They often relay some of the most important safety information regarding the hazards and safeguards of that product.

There are many other ways to advocate safety communication in the workplace. Verbal communication is also very important. When you see a situation where someone could be hurt, or there could be property loss, you should always speak up. Have a conversation with the individuals involved in the task to voice your safety concerns. Involve the right personnel to correct a situation before any serious negative consequences occur like employee injuries.

There are many different methods to communicate a message. It is important to recognize the communication tools used on the job that relay important information for your work task and the work environment. Verbal communication is not the only way to send and receive a message.

When someone says communication, the first thing you may think about is speaking words to another person or sending an email. These are just two ways to communicate, but there are many more ways found at work. Some other examples of communication include posters, labels, warnings, bulletins, pictograms, JSAs, SOPs, body language, etc. Depending on any number of factors, each of these tools of communication can be very critical to working safely.

Safety Posters

Many hours and a lot of money are spent by companies to develop ideas for posters, implement the ideas behind the poster on the job, and print them out for their job sites. Safety posters vary greatly in what information they are displaying. While some just have a few words of motivation, others can give great detail on a common hazard in the workplace. It is important to pay attention to anything the company or a supervisor puts up on the wall. If it was decided to spend the resources to develop the poster, then it is important for employees to review and understand the information it is communicating.

Job Safety Analyses (JSAs)

Job safety analyses are a proactive tool to prevent incidents, but they are also a method of communication. Much time and thought are spent on developing these tools. If the message that is being conveyed through JSAs is not being read or understood, then the tool does not serve any purpose. Often times JSAs can become repetitive for tasks done over and over, but time should always be given to read the message it is conveying. The message is often the same if you are completing the same task because, more often than not, it is the same hazards that cause the majority of injuries.


There are labels on just about anything you see in a workplace. All too often, labels are not read over, or unreadable labels are not replaced. Manufacturers of equipment, tools, and chemicals put these labels on for a reason. Labels communicate some of the most important information about a product, including serious hazards, safeguards, and contact information in case of an emergency. Make it a point to review the labels in your work area not only to check to see if they are in good condition but also to understand the message it is stating. If you see a label or symbol you do not understand, look in the owner’s manual or ask a supervisor for its meaning.

There are many reasons or excuses an individual will point to when asked why they are not performing a work task the right way. Some of these reasons include:

  • “There is not enough time to do the task the right way”
  • “Management does not enforce the rules or has unrealistic expectations”
  • “I have done it this way for years and nothing bad has ever happened”
  • “I do not have the energy to do the task the way you want it done”

Regardless of the reason, taking the easy route when it comes to ensuring safe work practices and procedures are being followed leaves you and everyone else around you at risk.

There are many reasons why we should do our best to do every single task the right way every time. The main reason we should do so is to keep both ourselves and our fellow coworkers safe from being injured on the job.  Another reason why we should do every task the right way is because working safely is good business.

Keeping people healthy on the job is not only good for the individual workers, but it also helps a business thrive by avoiding unnecessary costs resulting from injuries. When the business does well, everyone benefits in some way.