The Importance of Speaking Up and Stopping Work

Let's discuss the importance of speaking up and STOPPING work when you notice something is not right or when you observe a co-worker making a bad decision.

Every time you pick up a tool, every time you start a piece of equipment or machinery, you should have a strong questioning attitude and look for what can go wrong. Ask yourself 3 questions:

  • Have I don’t this task before?
  • Am I committed to doing the task the right way?
  • Do I have the courage to STOP Work if something feels wrong?

If your answer is NO to any one of the three questions; please STOP WORKING.”

  • 971 construction worker fatalities in 2017
  • Leading cause of worker death in the construction industry is falls. All preventable when committed to doing the task the right way.

Ladder violations continue to be a fixture on OSHA’s annual TOP TEN most cited list: 2,345 violations last year made ladders #6 on top ten list most cited OSHA violations. Most of us know how to use ladders the right way; but are most of us committed to doing the task the right way? Do we have the courage to STOP? Do you think it’s not going to happen to you?

We work in an uncertain world doing complex work in real time. Construction workers are making thousands of decisions every day; how can we expect they will make the right decision every time? We can’t! That is why we need the help of our co-workers to keep an eye on what we are doing and how we are doing it. Simple tasks such as lifting materials or using ladders can lead to serious injury; we take simple tasks for granted and often take short cuts or fail in our commitment to perform all task the right way.

Below are examples reasons why someone would hesitate to help a co-worker when they see a potentially dangerous situation:

  • The observer doesn’t consider situation so hazardous that it presents high likelihood of harm
  • The observer may assume that he or she doesn’t have the authority to get involved.
  • If other workers in the area aren’t taking any action, the observer may not either, rationalizing that the situation doesn’t call for it.
  • The observer might assume that the others may know something that he or she doesn’t and so takes no action.

Knowing we all have unique perspectives on risk and knowing we are faced with making thousands of decisions every day; we need each other’s support to overcome the hesitations listed above.