Safety Cops Need Not Apply

September 11, 2019 | Blog | Industry News | Safety | Safety Training | Workplace Hazards

We’ve all been there, when the dreaded “SAFETY COP” shows up on location or at your job site and everyone cringes then scrambles to try and correct any potential safety infraction that might get them into “TROUBLE”! Man, I hate that Cop you whisper to your co-worker, or “here we go again, I wonder what they are going to find this time!”. Someone starts whistling down the line to alert everyone else that SAFETY has arrived!

Unfortunately, this is far too common and too often the norm in the construction industry. I know, I get it. I was once that young worker always thinking that safety was out to get me or even as a supervisor, I would dread the day safety would come on site and make me look bad in front of my crew or even worse upper management. So, what did I do? I started a career in Safety. I even became that dreaded SAFETY COP that I hated so much as a worker. I had my chest out, head up, policing the work site, yelling at employees, writing employees up. Yep I dove off the deep end and became what I hated the most. Then one day in the middle of a project I was walking around and noticed the whistling and the people scrambling and the sour looks on their faces when I walked by, right then and there I thought, there has to be a better way, and there was.

I made the change! From then on out I promised myself, at NO point will there be yelling, pointing fingers and getting angry with employees, EVER. Instead I would champion safety, teach those who might be confused and HELP those who need it. I learned that most employees aren’t inherently trying to do things the wrong or unsafe way but they just need a little guidance on how to do it safely. I also learned that when you shed the title “The Safety Guy” and become a true “Safety Professional” you all encompass that very title “SAFETY PROFESSIONAL”. You need to be professional, courteous, personable and trustworthy to all you encounter. I also grew as a person, my stress level dropped, I started enjoying going to work again and enjoying interacting with the employees again, as a part of the team. They started to trust me again, to talk to me about issues or potential issues so we could correct anything that might be unsafe. I was getting requests for additional training and then began to see them putting in effort to try and do the right thing, and that my friends, is all you can ask for from your crews. A bunch of people trying to work and put in the effort to do it safely. It was amazing going from seeing people doing things wrong sometimes in defiance of you the safety guy, to saying hi and asking questions on how to do it properly and wanting you to become part of the crew again.

I will leave you with this, respect works both ways, and WE as Safety Professionals have to remember that we are not there to be The Safety Cop’s and police the job sites. We are there to help, teach, and guide the employees so they have a safe place to work. I believe that with the right approach and attitude you can convince the most stubborn of people to Champion Safety.  

Author: Joey Zanolini