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QUESTIONING THE BOSSES
Why, why, why, why, why?
Nancy Lessin is the top US expert on union responses to behavioural safety. She has this advice for union reps.
Health and safety approaches that focus on workers' behaviour condemn workers as the problem. Unions see workers as the solution.
There is no one better to identify the hazards on a job, or come up with ideas to eliminate or reduce those hazards, than the worker doing that job. If a job is being done "unsafely," a good rule of thumb is to "ask 'why?' five times." For example:
Andrea got something in her eye at
Asking "why" questions allows an inquiry to get to root causes - the source of the problem that will need to change in order to bring about a safer workplace.
Unions can then strategise about what it would take to get an employer to purchase adequate personal protective equipment, or use engineering controls to eliminate the need for workers to wear personal protective equipment, or in some other way make the workplace safer.
An approach that blames workers for
their "bad behaviour" thwarts real prevention efforts. It's
management behaviour that is putting workers' health and lives at risk,
and management behaviour that must change in order to achieve safe and
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