What would happen if you skipped a step: Safety Edition

What would happen if you skipped a step in your safety process?

Before starting Safety Reports, I worked as a Loss Control Consultant for several years in the insurance industry. I’ve had the opportunity to walk through various businesses, mostly in Construction and Manufacturing. My favorite stops were at facilities that manufactured chocolate bars, bread, and other incredibly awesome-smelling food items. But I also had to, unfortunately, trudge through blood and guts at beef and chicken poultry plants and, even worse, rendering facilities. Talk about polar opposite smells!

But, no matter the worksite, I always tried to remember to ask a specific question to random employees during my walk-through. It went something like this…What would happen if you didn’t wear your safety glasses? What would happen if you bypassed that guard? What would happen if you didn’t wear your seat belt on the forklift?

It didn’t matter what the “hypothetical” safety violation was; the answer was always telling.

If I asked this question 10 times during my visit, the majority of the responses went something like this:

  • My boss would yell at me.
  • I’d get written up.
  • I’d get sent home.

But every now and then, a response made my day!  It went something like this…

  • I could get hurt.

WOW!  Right on!!!  That was the response I wanted to hear.  That response alone told me that they got it.  And, if I heard it often enough, it was the strongest indicator I could find that the company has a solid safety culture in place.


So, next time you’re out in the field inspecting one of your worksites, don’t forget to ask that simple question…what if you didn’t….?   Tally up the responses and get an inside look at how strong your safety culture is.

Steve Polich, CSP



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