Sometimes you may find it tough to talk to your boss about workplace safety, but it’s important and it has to be done. Employers need to know about workplace hazards so they can take the necessary steps to implement policies and procedures to protect you and your fellow employees.
The few minutes it takes to talk and find a solution is nothing compared to the impact if you don’t alert your boss to a hazard and this inaction results in an injury (or worse, fatality). But, sometimes it’s just about finding the right approach when it comes to how best to broach the subject with your particular boss.
Here are six simple tips to help you start the conversation…
Tip #1: Prepare solutions to the problem before you approach your boss
Most employers already have a lot on their plate and their impatience at hearing problems may come from additional worry without any help on how to solve issues. If you recognise a safety concern in your workplace, address the problem with your boss but at the same time offer ways to fix it. That being said, don’t sugar coat the issue – you need to be clear about the danger.
Tip #2: Time your conversation
Of course, when it comes to safety, it is important to address issues as soon as you become aware of them, but at the same time you need to pick the optimum time to speak to your boss. If you speak to your boss on the heels of them suffering a major setback, you may be the perfect target for a tantrum and your concerns won’t get addressed. However, if your boss has just returned from lunch, or happens to be particularly chatty, chances are they will be more open.
Tip #3: Ask for help
Ideally, you want to approach your boss with a cool and collected attitude. Unless it is a real emergency, ask your boss for an appointment so that you will have time to get your own thoughts in order and time to talk through the issue. A sit-down conversation is more likely to yield a thoughtful response, than a desperate (and possibly emotional) interchange sandwiched between meetings.
Tip #4: Be well prepared
When you approach your boss, make sure you have all the necessary information – both about the risk in question, and possible solutions you would like to offer. Present the facts and steer clear of personal opinion. Have objective information/evidence that supports your concern.
Tip #5: Be professional
There’s nothing worse than talking to your boss when you’re upset. Supervisors don’t want to deal with emotion – calm yourself and then speak to your boss.
Tip #6: Be willing to take advice
Be receptive to ideas your boss might have for minimising the risk issue you’ve raised, even if it isn’t something you have considered. Be sure to thank your boss for their input and try to implement their suggestion if it’s practical to do so. One of the traits of a great manager is being able to take control of a difficult situation, so give your boss the chance to prove their value in this area, and trust that they may also be doing something you’re not privy to.
Remember: Your employer is legally responsible for maintaining a healthy and safe work environment, so you are well within your rights to speak up if you feel your health and safety (or that of a colleague’s) is at risk or compromised.
Your voice is among the best safety tools in your workplace, and reporting hazards and unsafe situations is the right thing to do. Speak up if you see something risky. Your boss will thank you for it.