High noon for safety cowboys

1 min read

It's only fitting to kick off an issue dominated by conflict by declaring war.

So, to all the elf and safety bashing boneheads – those fellas sporting a fistful of Brut and a bandana, and leaving Banksy-esque squiggles on health and safety posters: 'You and me: Outside, now.' These self-styled renegades and their motley crews have been brought to heel on the vast majority of sites. However, the fact that at least one Neanderthal was knowingly driving a forklift without brakes proves the species is still at large. Snubbing health and safety is still de rigueur on production lines caught in the Palaeolithic age. The grapevine is alive with stories of operators wilfully ignoring lifting capacities. And what starts as overloading soon degenerates into seatbelt dodging and giving Terry a ride down to the warehouse on the forks. 'Lighten up Mr Clipboard', the protagonists cry. 'It's not like anyone gets hurt'. But, the thing is they do – just ask Gordon Rose about his eight operations to repair a shattered leg. The fun goes out of shopfloor Jackass when you realise another young lad like Gordon Rose junior could be left asking why his daddy can't take him for a kick-about like all his pals. Remember that lad the next time you a see a seatbelt unfastened. Take the tough decision and confront offenders. Good health and safety begins at the top: Managers have to demonstrate that their commitment runs deeper than ticking boxes on a risk assessment. Conflict is unavoidable, but with the right technique, these can be clashes for good. Use open ended questions: How could we save our site from another Gordon Rose style injury? Empathise with the potential hazards facing your driver on a busy shift. Being conciliatory may result in your shopfloor John Wayne playing sheriff with the same vigour as he played cowboy. Of course, it's equally likely you'll endure a colourful run-in. But, unlike a brush with a two tonne truck, everyone walks away from those.