Is Silence Golden?

Jun 16, 2022 Safety Culture

Health and safety is one of those topics that exist, but how many people actually discuss the subject during their day-to-day work life? Is it becoming more prominent in the last few years? Absolutely! But it is still something that we find is NOT largely discussed.

As an employee at a company which provides health and safety training and consulting (for over 20 years!!), we have pretty much heard it all and there is not much that would surprise us – with the exception of the SILENCE.

Silence surrounding protocol, the silence surrounding hazard recognition, silence regarding accident or injury in the workplace – SILENCE to the potential RISKS involved in the workplace.

Cambridge dictionary defines Silence (noun); ‘as a state of not speaking or writing or making a noise’

Silence isn’t golden. On a beach enjoying a well-deserved vacation, silence can be a huge indicator of risk, accident or injury. A drowning person very rarely makes noise; this is because the body automatically prioritizes breathing over anything else, making it impossible for them to scream for help. A person choking rarely makes a noise, but you could notice it if you happen to glance in their direction. This example is a good analogy to health and safety issues in the workplace.

Worker #1 sees a spill on the floor, barely even mentally acknowledges it and keeps walking. Worker #2 is walking the exact same path not even 2 minutes later, reading the most recent employee memo, doesn’t see the spill, hits it and lands the hardest fall on a concrete floor, hits their head and it knocks them out. This results in personal injury to Worker #2, Emergency Professionals Responding, emergency room medical professionals tending to the injured worker, an investigation by the company’s designated team of accident investigators, WSIB and Ministry of Labour

 

There is a certain level of complacency regarding health and safety; perhaps a mindset of ‘it won’t happen to me’ sets in. But it does happen, it can happen and it will happen, perhaps not to you, but to someone you know. Six degrees of separation; every one of us knows someone, who knows someone that was severely injured, lost a life or suffered from a workplace injury. How many of us actually take the initiative to become involved in health and safety?

  • What is the mindset pertaining to health and safety in your workplace? Do you discuss it?
  • Are you encouraged by your hierarchy to bring potential situations to the attention of others so that they may be addressed?
  • Do you know what the protocol is in your workplace??
  • ARE YOU ENCOURAGED TO BREAK THE SILENCE??

In some environments, being silent is considered a valuable trait. Within the workplace, however, it proves to be an impediment that prevents the minimization of hazards which in turn leads to improved safety performance. When one witnesses unsafe acts, or hazards within the workplace, choosing to remain quiet allows for someone to risk injury or even death. Not only that, by staying silent, you are offering subtle tacit approval. Silence is never the solution; it may be a challenging conversation to voice, but one can choose to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Workplace injury is avoidable, we just need to know how to recognize a hazard, and what to do about it. The one thing that is certain is – Silence is NOT golden.

Kris Ramey
Account Manager

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