Worker mistake-oriented proactivity and error management
Support workers to prevent incidents, correct errors, solve safety-related problems and encourage learning from each other.
Involve workers in work health and safety (WHS) discussions to encourage positive safety behaviours, including speaking up when they observe unsafe behaviours. A culture of silence can contribute to problems being hidden, and errors and mistakes being ignored. This creates the potential for injury and illness to other workers unaware of the risk.
The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 states, ‘Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons.’
Encourage workers to challenge unsafe behaviour of others, by reinforcing safety values, beliefs, and attitudes such as:
- our workmate’s lives and wellbeing are important. People should go home in the same condition they came to work in
- wellbeing and personal safety in the workplace are more important than money
- promote and support workers who advocate and model good WHS behaviours and practices, especially when safety standards come under pressure.
Once an unsafe behaviour has been identified, check to make sure it has been stopped, and use it as a learning opportunity for everyone.
Promote the idea that differences in ideas and opinions is a positive. Support workers who challenge long held beliefs about how work should be done when they are trying to improve safety for everyone.
Effective consultation includes communication systems and processes that encourage workers to express their views and to raise WHS issues.
If WHS concerns are raised in a group setting such as a toolbox meeting, it is possible not everyone will agree or view the issue as a risk. In this situation:
- acknowledge the concerns raised
- invite questions to clarify understanding
- ask for suggestions to address the concerns
- manage expectations by explaining next steps.
Where suitable, consider temporary solutions, to manage a risk while a more comprehensive assessment is arranged. This may involve modifying a work procedure.
The Safety fundamentals toolkit has resources and information including an Incident/investigation form (DOC, 0.07 MB) and Tips for investigating workplace incidents (PDF, 0.48 MB) templates you can use to involve workers in responding to WHS concerns.
Reduce the likelihood of incidents by encouraging workers to share their experience when a risk is identified. Support your workers to learn from each other for everyone’s benefit.
Establish a WHS committee. This could provide your workers the opportunity to share their experiences, learn from each other and collectively address WHS issues.
Refresh workers’ knowledge of good safety practices and risk management. Workers will often identify risks that you may overlook.
Allow time for workers to talk through errors, what happened, and how it has been fixed. This will help build your organisation’s safety capability.
- Build safety capability by encouraging workers to share WHS error learnings with others.
- Ensure workers have the knowledge, skills, and training to identity when work is being performed unsafely.
- Educate workers about their WHS responsibilities, including speaking up about unsafe behaviours of others.
- Encourage your workers to see mistakes as a learning opportunity.
- Implement a program to acknowledge proactive WHS worker behaviours.
View the Resources page for information and tips on how to improve your systems and processes to build your safety capability including prioritising organisational safety, importance of consultation, representation and participation, and understanding your legal obligations.
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