Learn to Be a Safety Buddy
You should always follow the correct safety measures at work. This not only helps you, but also your co-workers. For starters, if you keep your work area tidy and inspect equipment before others use it, you won't subject them to a potential injury.
Even more significant, by following the appropriate safety procedure, you'll remind others to do the same.
"Peer pressure can be a powerful motivator," explains John F. Rekus, P.E., C.I.H., C.S.P., a safety consultant in Maryland. "Often, people know the appropriate thing to do, but they don't do it because nobody else is doing it—and so why should they?"
In addition, wearing appropriate safety equipment while operating dangerous equipment or inspecting heavy moving equipment before use is a visible way to bolster your organization's safety culture, and there's no better way to reduce mishaps and injuries.
Here are some other pro-active ways to be a good safety buddy.
Offer and accept help
"Interaction between people can do a lot to prevent mishaps," says Mr. Rekus. "It can be as simple as asking someone for help in lifting a heavy item or volunteering to help someone else who is about to lift a too-heavy load."
You know to inspect a ladder before you set it up for someone else to climb and to check an extension cord before plugging it in. Don't hesitate to ask co-workers a well-timed question before they use their tools and equipment. Ask: Did you inspect the cord on that drill? Have you checked if the scaffold is fully planked?
"Some people are reluctant to get involved because they see it as encroaching on someone else's space," says Mr. Rekus. "But reminders are an excellent way to help increase peer pressure."
Mr. Rekus stresses that supervisors have a clear duty to ask such questions on a regular basis. If they don't, they'll be undercutting the entire safety program. When they ask, "Did you check this?" workers will quickly learn these things are important, and the safety culture will change for the better.
Personal protective equipment
Remind co-workers about their personal protective equipment (PPE). A pushy approach isn't so effective, particularly from a peer: "Hey you, put your safety glasses on!" The silent approach may be less intrusive—pointing to your head to remind a co-worker to don a hard hat—but verbal communication will likely be more effective.
Try a little pointed humor
Mr. Rekus says someone used this approach on him years ago, and he's applied it effectively with many other workers who failed to use their PPE.
"I was working for the Bell System, and my hard hat was sitting nearby on a two-by-four," Mr. Rekus says. My boss came in and said with a smile, 'Your hard hat is doing a good job protecting that two-by-four.' It was very effective. I was embarrassed—and I never forgot it."