Workers' top 5 safety excuses and how to counter them

Workers' top 5 safety excuses and how to counter them

Chances are you've heard pretty much every excuse in the book from workers dropping the ball on safety procedures.
And while the more off-the-wall excuses may be entertaining (or that much more frustrating) from time to time, most safety pros can list several excuses they hear again and again.  But there are ways to fight those excuses and get workers to follow safety procedures.

The PBP executive report, Employees' Top 10 Safety Excuses and How to Counter Them, lists strategies to get workers on board.

Here are the top five excuses from the report and what to say when workers try to use them.
1. 'It won't happen to me'
Two polar-opposite groups of workers often use this excuse.  Veteran workers think they've seen it all before, and if they haven't been hurt yet, they must be doing something right.  Young workers think they're invincible.
The response: Telling these workers that gruesome injuries happen isn't enough. To really send the message, ask workers who've suffered an injury to share their stories, or include some gory images in your next training.
2. 'Safety's not my job'
Some employees see safety as a separate department, so they're not responsible for it.
The response: Show workers how safety impacts the bottom line, from workers' comp costs to OSHA fines.
3. 'Safety's boring'
Employees often associate safety with boring training sessions or confusing OSHA regs.
The response: Get workers involved in training. Encourage them to actively participate or even lead a session. That way at least they'll have an appreciation for what it takes to get others engaged in the topics.
4. 'The gear's uncomfortable'
It's the most common excuse when workers are caught not wearing PPE.
The response: Give workers a say in PPE selection. Get a few employees to test new gear and let them pick which new equipment to buy.
5. 'I just forgot'
This is the toughest excuse to counter, because it's often a cover for some other cop out.
The response: Get tough on this excuse. If a worker forgot "just this once," issue disciplinary action "just this once."

Reprinted with permission from

Safety Compliance Alert 3/24/11

4 comments (Add your own)

1. Sukey wrote:
Your story was really ifnomrative, thanks!

Mon, December 12, 2011 @ 7:04 PM

2. pgbyxsbpyyd wrote:
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Wed, December 14, 2011 @ 3:04 AM

3. tyler wrote:
Good post. Supervisors should be able to counter these excuses and this is great giving the ways to counter them.

Fri, June 29, 2012 @ 11:42 AM

4. Gerson wrote:
From every source I've cckheed it is clear that too many businesses have waited to the last minute on training for the new GHS labeling and data sheet standard. Training is one of the three core components of a hazard communication plan. Employees at 70% of U.S. businesses (5.4 million establishments) must train their workers on the new labels and Safety Data Sheets before December this year. Warning; now is the last minute! Don't think all this training is going to get done after summer and during the holidays. Time to move if you already haven't.

Sun, January 5, 2014 @ 12:32 PM

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