The study, named Silent Danger: The Five Crucial Conversations that Drive Workplace Safety, surveyed more than 1,600 frontline workers, managers, and safety directors across 30 safety-conscious organizations in 2009.
According to the data, 93 percent of employees say their company is currently at risk and nearly half are aware of an injury or death caused by one of five avoidable workplace dangers. However, despite being aware of these five threats, only one in four employees speaks up and tries to correct unsafe conditions.
“Silent Danger shows the tragic secret behind most workplace injuries is that someone is aware of the threat well in advance, but is either unwilling or unable to speak up,” said Joseph Grenny, cofounder of VitalSmarts and leading researcher of the study. “The greatest dangers to workplace safety are the norms, habits, and assumptions embedded in our corporate cultures that stifle employees’ ability to speak up and confront unsafe practices.”
Each of the five threats to workplace safety outlined in Silent Danger was identified as being costly, common, and undiscussable. The five threats are:
- Get It Done. Unsafe practices that are justified by tight deadlines.
- Undiscussable Incompetence. Unsafe practices that stem from skill deficits that can’t be discussed.
- Just this Once. Unsafe practices that are justified as exceptions to the rule.
- This Is Overboard. Unsafe practices that bypass precautions considered excessive.
- Are You a Team Player? Unsafe practices that are justified for the good of the team, company, or customer.
The full Silent Danger research results and recommendations for leaders are available for download at www.vitalsmarts.com/safety.