Find and Fix: Why should I pick it up?

By Carl Potter, CSP


...and he said to me, "Well that's been there for three days."


Human motivation is an interesting safety topic because it is an ever-changing element in safe behavior. If a person observes a trip hazard and walks past without picking it up, the problem is a lack of personal motivation. More than that, it is a leadership problem that has degraded the organization’s safety culture to a point that people are not taking action to fix hazards when they find them. This situation is not just found in the frontline workforce. It is also found at all levels of the organization.


Whose Problem Is It?

Socially in the United States, a lot of folks that say, "It's not my problem." This can relate to any number of situations, which includes hazards left by a previous co-worker who has not been held accountable for picking up after themselves. My question is, "If it is not your problem, then whose problem is it?" Sure, it’s aggravating to feel like you are the one always picking up behind others or the only one who sees the hazards around the worksite. Sometime is seems easier to just leave it for the next person – the person who may trip, slip, fall, or be struck by something that is left out of place.


We all have to develop the “find and fix” approach, no matter how simple or complex this issue is.


One Big Tip to Overcome Resistance

It’s not hard to see the resistance to find the hazard then fix the hazard in ourselves and in others. The first step in overcoming what we perceive to be resistance is to evaluate the expectations. In many of my Safety and the Supervisor Seminars, I hear lead people and supervisors say, "I can't get them to do it." “It” might be following the safe work procedures or fixing hazards they identify, or any of a number of safe behaviors. In this case, the leader has failed to sell the worker on the importance of, "doing it.". Spending time with teams to set expectations is vital to safety. Supervisors and leads (foremen, crew leaders, etc.) must take time to outline and be direct about what they want the worksite to look like and not just tell personnel to pick up after themselves.


Pre-established conditions can help even the most seasoned employee understand expectations. I encourage supervisors to take pictures of work areas to benchmark what "it" should look like. If you have ever been to someone's home that was messy, disorganized, or in general disarray, you will realize that not everyone has the same mental picture of what "it" looks like. This will help workers (and supervisors) begin to see the hazards around them – to “find” them so they can “fix” them.



Supervisors and team leaders, spend time with your team this week to establish recognizable norms for the work area. Let them know what it should look like and what the processes and procedures are to keep the work area in top condition so the work can be conducted in a safe manner throughout the entire job. Creating a safe workplace is key to preventing workplace injuries. Supervisors must be trained to be leaders and they should also understand the mental and physical aspects of hazard recognition and control.


If you are interested in training your supervisors, I would like to talk to you. Supervisors who attend my Hazard Recognition and Control Workshop and Safety and the Supervisor Seminar are better equipped to develop a safety culture in their workgroup where Nobody Gets Hurt.


For more information, give me a call at: 800-259-6209 or email me at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


This workshop is designed to help all employees to see hazards.  I use my decades of experience and education to educate employees at all levels how to recognize the hazards in their worksites.  This is one of the best ways I know to guard against and overcome complacency.  This workshop is six hours and includes time for lunch.  The pay-off for this new workshop should be immediate for most organizations.

Participants will learn:
- Why people get hurt and damages occur
- Where hazards come from
- How to recognize hazards
- What to do to control a hazard
- When to practice hazard recognition and control

This is not about rules and regulations but it can help you comply with the "General Duty Clause" that OSHA is so fond of when citing a citation.  In my research I have found that most people will control a hazard if they recognize it.  Across the country, I investigated incidents and interviewed countless workers and one thing is clear:  those injured or involved in incidents where damage to equipment and property were involved were unable to recognize the contributing hazard.  In this workshop, participants will learn how to classify hazards in four categories to help workers recognize them.  They will then be taught a simple way to analyze the hazard for risk and consequences while deciding what controls will work to prevent injury to themselves, co-workers and the public as well as damage to equipment and property.

I hope you will consider this workshop for your employees because they will be safer at work, home, and play.  Once they are able to recognize and control hazards, there will be a greater likelihood that they will begin to take personal responsibility for safety so that everyone can go home every day without injury.

Call 800-259-6209 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information