The Surprising Secrets of Safe Behavior in the Workplace

by Mar 28, 2023

When it comes to safe behavior in the workplace, we often think of protective gear, such as hard hats and safety goggles. While these are certainly important, safe behavior in the workplace goes beyond simply wearing the right gear. In fact, some of the most important aspects of workplace safety involve our own behavior and mindset.

Now, if you’re thinking, “Being safe is easy,” au contraire, my dear reader, being safe can be just as exciting and interesting as any adrenaline-fueled activity! Not getting injured physically or mentally on the job sounds pretty exciting to us, and having more energy for your hobbies and passions outside of work is even more amazing.


Surprising secrets to safe behavior in the workplace

Mind your distractions

Distractions are more than just a minor inconvenience – they’re actually one of the biggest threats to workplace safety. When we’re not fully focused on the task at hand, we’re more likely to make mistakes, overlook potential hazards, or take unnecessary risks that could lead to accidents or injuries. Even if you’re in an office, you could trip over a cord or hurt yourself trying to grab that box of office supplies on the top shelf. 

And while a distraction could refer to checking a text message while driving a forklift, it can also refer to the distractions that come with being mistreated or bullied at work. People who feel targeted, isolated, or abused at work are certainly not sleeping well or paying attention to the details of their jobs. They are disengaged from work and their teams, experiencing anxiety, and even feeling isolated at home if their family and friends don’t understand what they’re going through. 

So whether or not you’re being mistreated at work, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re capable of staying focused. Then, try to eliminate or minimize any distractions that you can – put your phone on silent, step away from your computer for a few minutes, and don’t be afraid to recharge your batteries and come back to your tasks with fresh energy.

Create psychological safety

Getting your team to speak up about potential hazards in the workplace isn’t just about physical safety – it’s about psychological safety too.  An environment where psychological safety is encouraged and supported is an environment where people will report hazards. This could mean setting up regular check-ins with your team to get feedback and address concerns, and making sure that there are clear channels for reporting any issues or incidents that could be affecting both physical and psychological safety. 

Check out our previous blog post on Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for some helpful tips!

Take care of yourself and give your team time to do the same

Taking care of yourself isn’t just about indulging in some occasional “me time” – it’s a key factor in staying safe and focused at work. When you’re feeling your best, physically and mentally, you’re less likely to make silly mistakes or take unnecessary risks that could lead to accidents or injuries.

But creating a culture of self-care in the workplace isn’t always easy. It takes effort to prioritize wellness in the midst of busy schedules and demanding workloads. One way to foster a more supportive work environment is by conducting a climate assessment – this can help you identify areas where your company could be doing more to promote self-care and well-being among employees.

Embrace a safety mindset

Make safe behavior in the workplace more than just following the rules; make safety a part of the mindset. Be a superhero and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of others around you. Be on the lookout for potential dangers and use your superhero powers to work smarter, not harder. 

As with any culture change initiative, you’ve got to start by selling the “problem” and then the solution to your team. If you want people to embrace safety as a mindset, you’ve got to help them see where the issues lie with the current way safety is being treated and how shifting the culture will solve those issues. One example is that with great safety comes great productivity! If you tie productivity to bonuses, for example, people will care about that. 

Have conversations with your team about what safety means to them, and lean into those conversations moving forward. If your team says that being safe includes feeling safe to report a hazard, now you have an action item – ensuring people feel psychologically safe.

By practicing safe behavior in the workplace, you can avoid turning your desk job into an extreme sport and keep yourself and your coworkers safe. And who knows? Maybe your newfound safety skills will impress your boss and lead to a promotion.


Stay safe out there, folks!


Do you know how much money chronically bad behavior costs your company? Spoiler alert – it’s a LOT higher than you want it to be. Download our data and worksheet to see how it’s costing your organization and what you can do to fix it.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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