Don’t walk by: Today’s near miss could be tomorrow’s accident says PJ Hegarty

by | Nov 9, 2022

Safety Week 2022 Gold Sponsor

At PJ Hegarty it is important that all our staff and site personnel practice good safety habits every day. One of the most effective ways to promote safety is through conversation.

We encourage our people to dedicate time to safety each day, and if we can all do this safety becomes an automatic habit and not something we have to think about. We are running a safety initiative called ‘Don’t Walk By’, which supports this by empowering site personnel to act when they see something unsafe and to follow the ethos ‘if you see it, you own it’.

The initiative looks at all the practical elements of a positive safety conversation. When we broke it down and asked the question “why do people walk past an unsafe situation” we could identify several key reasons.

Some of these included a lack of experience, lack of safety knowledge or they didn’t feel it was their job. We also found that they didn’t feel they had the confidence to approach someone on site, or where afraid that raising an issue with someone would lead to conflict.

To assist with this, PJ Hegarty engaged with external sources to coach and mentor our staff. The sessions were educational based. Staff learnt about coaching, hazard spotting and how to effectively engage with personnel on site leading to a positive outcome.

Often, we find ourselves talking about safety being everyone’s responsibility, but forget that this doesn’t come naturally to everyone. We must continually educate, train and coach to instil the good safety habits, so they become automatic.

Our established Safety Behavioural Programme is now complimented with our ‘Don’t Walk By’ initiative to help with this. The initiative also helps to breakdown any false misconceptions around addressing unsafe observations while also building confidence to do so.

We have seen a dramatic increase in safety interactions and observations since commencing this initiative. All who have attended the one-to-one coaching sessions have more confidence in addressing safety concerns.

Safety on site at PJ Hegarty

The feedback from staff has also been helpful and has given us many avenues to explore on how we can better support staff when it comes to owning safety.

“I found the session very beneficial. Although I am outgoing as a person anyway the mentor showed me some very useful techniques in how to engage with people and get my pointacross. Simple techniques that also have positive outcomes.”

“I learned how to approach people in a manner that didn’t irritate them while highlighting that what they were doing was not safe. I was surprised at how effective it was.”

During the time of the pandemic, we practiced distancing ourselves from each other and in doing so, forgot how important it is to talk.

For Safety Month this year we have asked all our site personnel to challenge their relationship with safety by asking themselves the question: What have I done for safety today, and what conversations have I had?

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