Do you really fill the shoes of a “Walk the Talk” safety pro? Let’s consider what it takes to be self-directed when it comes to safety.

I happen to be a safety director who not only has the opportunity to direct others but I am also self-directed. When it comes to safety I actually Walk the Talk and want to talk about it.

Do you walk the talk?

It is truly about setting an example for individual self-direction and personal ownership. My position involves traveling to many construction sites each day, but for the past three months I have been assigned to monitor safety on one of our larger projects. This has provided me the opportunity to really walk the talk and follow through for the safety of the workers. The construction workers see me everyday and witness someone walking the talk for safety.

Have you seen the workers send out a secret code to warn every one whenever a safety representative is on the site? Then everyone scurries around to look right, meaning safe. This is other-directed behavior, and while better than nothing, it is not optimal.

Our presence should mean more than that. We set the self-directed example, support the workers' safety needs, train and educate safety-related procedures, and inspire their participation. Instead of enforcing rules as a "safety cop" we should ask, "What can I do to help?"

Case in point

Here's one experience. On a recent project I asked the workers if there were any issues I could support them with. They were comfortable to speak up and explained that a number of the port-o-johns were not being cleaned regularly. I got right on this, showing up early the next morning to meet the port-o-john cleaner. He was shocked that someone would talk to him let alone take interest in what he does. I asked him if I could observe what he does, and make sure he doesn't miss cleaning any of his set-ups. Apparently, he had been unable to clean a number of port-o-johns because they were blocked by workers' trucks.

As I was riding with him I noticed workers looking at me in disbelief. They were amazed I was actually in the truck with this guy. From that day on, the workers gave me more respect, and seemed to listen more to my safety-related messages. When they saw me walk the talk, they were more ready to listen to my talk and walk the safety talk.

Check yourself

Here are five questions to answer to check on your walk for safety.
  1. Do you follow-through immediately with workers' safety-related requests?
  2. Do you go beyond the call of duty for safety?
  3. Do you show empathy for workers?
  4. Do you actively empower people and help bring the best out of them?
  5. Do you really walk the talk or do you just talk?
As safety leaders, we must pay attention to our safety-related behaviors. When we make safety personal, people will remember what we say and watch what we do. Remember to walk your own safety talk.