Avoiding Safety Conversations

May 02 2022
By: Shawn M. Galloway

A large plant in the United States had been an OSHA VPP (Voluntary Protection Program) Star site for many years. They were coming up for renewal. Corporate leadership felt the culture under current leadership was going in the wrong direction. They hired me to find out. They were right. I have led hundreds of similar projects to determine the current state of culture and what the focus needs to be on for continuous improvement. I will never forget this one lady and what she said to me. During one focus group conversation led across the plant, we landed on the topic of safety conversations and feedback. Avoiding Safety Conversations When asked what the safety conversations were like and what was discussed, an hourly associate responded: "You know, I'll be retiring in a few months after thirty years here. The only time they talked to me about safety is when I'd done something wrong. Just once before I retire, I wish they would tell me when I've done something right." Unfortunately, safety was a conversation this employee avoided, not something she sought out.

Is performance feedback a neutral, good or bad conversation within your company? Conversations are a significant part of shaping culture. What conversations are shaping yours?

"One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever." - Linda Lam

"Positive reinforcement changes behavior for the better, while criticism stabilizes negative behaviors and blocks change." - Virginia H. Pearce






Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 650 podcasts, 200 articles and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow and Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers.