Media Banner


How to Encourage Personal Safety in the Workplace

Increasing Personal Safety in the Workplace

The goal in safety is to prevent injury and illness and this can be done by encouraging Personal Safety awareness.

Injuries result from at-risk behaviours. If you decrease these behaviours, and increase safe behaviours you will prevent injuries. Two decades of a variety of behaviour based research has verified this premise.

What you need is people who want to be safe – and to be accountable for their actions.

A simple idea that is not so easy to implement. How do you encourage people to take personal responsibility for their own safety?

You can help people come to the understanding that they should change their behaviours by selling the benefits of their own safety. Look at “why” people take shortcuts, typically “it was quicker” or “it was easier” will be the resulting answer.

Safety in the workplace is also influenced by a number of factors such as the organisational environment, management attitude and commitment, the nature of the job or task, as well as personal attributes of the individual. By addressing these major influences you can create a safer working environment.

The following steps are methods you can use to encourage greater personal responsibility from your workers in the workplace:

Talk about the issues openly.

Create an environment where everybody can opening discuss and debate safety issues and make decisions from a group input rather than having to make decisions on their own.

Start talking about:

  • being responsible for one’s actions
  • values like trust, family, respect, integrity instead of giving a list of rules to follow
  • what it means to come home in one piece
  • concepts of accountability and responsibility

When people care about their health and well-being they are engaged and focused on what they are doing and rarely have accidents.

Find out what their greatest concerns are, and what needs to be done about them. Ask for their ideas on how fix things. Challenge any outdated assumptions, and give your employees the context, as the more context they understand the better they will perform, and the greater the reinforcement of positive safety habits.

Encourage them to think more on the job – you’ll improve autonomy and job satisfaction. The best way to create personal responsibility is to let them discover it for themselves.

Set realistic goals.

Goal-setting is a great way to get employees on board. You can inspire the whole team by setting a common challenge. As any self-help guru will tell you, goal setting is important for both individuals and teams. Goal-setting brings your team together and allows them to grow and motivate one another.

Commit to following up regularly.

Left to their own devices and without the proper motivation people will naturally slip back into old habits. You don’t want to lose any ground or motivation that you may have established.

Schedule a set time to catch up with everybody. Review progress toward the goals you have set and open conversation around any challenges people might be facing. Create discussion around ways to solve the problems. This is a great way to keep safety conversations open and to generate great ideas and energy.

Reinforce the small victories.

Let everybody know when positive safety behaviour happens. Make a fuss over the little things and that they’re getting closer to reaching the goals. Keep reinforcing progress and that success is almost theirs.

Chart progress publicly.

Make a point of charting the teams progress in public. We’re herd animals and this is a great way to motivate everyone and get them on board.

Celebrate, Rinse, and Repeat.

When the goal has been achieved make sure to celebrate the win. Then start over again with another goal to strive for. Keep the momentum going and encourage people to look after themselves and act safely at all times.

By creating an environment where everybody can openly discuss safety issues, and how to solve them, you create a workplace where safety is at the forefront of all conversations and processes on a daily basis. The more you can integrate safety in the workplace day-to-day, and encourage your staff to take responsibility for their safety as well, the more productive your workplace will be longer-term


  • You have been given a gift as a Life Saver

    I sat through your presentation yesterday with mixed emotions those of sadness, sorrow, anger… where you can directly and indirectly impact and change the lives of many… you have been given a great gift of a Life Saver to many but at a tremendous personal sacrifice. I have asked myself what could I do for Hawk, my families, peers, colleagues and friends and came up with — Think and act safely in everything I do and ask / tell others to do the same to protect them from harm. 97.8% of our delegates said Hawk’s presentation was excellent / good.

    Rick Alcock, National Manager, Construction Oil & Gas L&H Group
  • Inspired by his words

    Yesterday both myself & Ashlea Wright were invited to attend the Shell Global Safety day at the Pinkenba terminal on behalf of G4S Secure Solutions. As part of the presentation, we were privileged to listen to Hawk Vagg and his story relating to the accident in 1998. Hawk’s powerful and heart wrenching description of the events, & the people affected by that day in 1998, left both myself & Ashlea moved & inspired by his words. Hawk’s message has had a huge impact on my approach to everyday moments in life & highlighted the need to be vigilant & remain safe wherever we are in life, be it at work or home. In conjunction with Shell’s presentation, it was an uplifting & educational approach to what remains a common goal amongst us all – a safe workplace/environment. On behalf of G4S, I would like to thank Shell for extending the invitation. I wish Hawk Vagg continued success with his presentations around the country and personally thank Hawk for raising my safety awareness to a higher level of appreciation. Good Luck Hawk. Thank you all.

    John Broughton Branch Manager QLD G4S Secure Solutions
  • The boys comment about things you made them aware of in your presentation

    Hello Hawk, better late than never, I would like to thank you for the day you spent here on site. As recently as a week ago, some of the boys comment about things you made them aware of in your presentation. The feedback has been very good and attitude to safety awareness have changed for the better. Your posters are a very good reminder for the workers, not just the workers that were there on the day, other workers have commented on them as well. I believe the effects of your visit will assist in keeping the safety awareness on the right track for some time.

    Russelll Mallett, Safety Officer Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Pty Ltd
  • It made a real impact on everyone

    Hi Hawk, I hope you are well. The guys are still talking about your presentation, it made a real impact on everyone. We are making a poster and just wanted to check with you if it was ok to use your “mantra” — “She’ll be right mate, But… what if I am wrong”

    Greg McCluand, Plant Manager, Iplex Pipelines Australia Pty Ltd
  • Choices and consequences

    Hawk shared his story with the Moorvale team and left everyone with a powerful message to stop and think about the choices you make and the consequences they could have on you and the people around you.

    Nicole Challen from Leighton Contractors Moorvale Mine
  • A very relevant and worthwhile experience

    I just wanted to let you know that we had great feedback for Hawk ranging from our Sub-Contractors, Business HSEQ Director and Regional Director. Thank you for assisting with the organisation of what was a very relevant and worthwhile experience.

    Laura Greene Laing O’Rourke OHS – Port Botany
  • I could see it made an impact on the lads

    I just wanted to say that I thought your speech / presentation was brilliant, it was a very hard hitting speech that I could see it made an impact on the lads. I thought it was well delivered and your detailed description of the accident really hit home. I was especially moved by the aftermath of your accident and the way it’s affected you and your life.

    Neil O’Donnell, H&S Advisor Port Botany Laing O’Rourke
  • I took away some personal reflections and timely reminders

    I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and thanks for your heart-felt and very personal presentations here for us at Toowoomba Regional Council. I have received very positive feedback from attendees at both sessions you delivered last Wednesday. Overall, I took away some personal reflections and ‘timely reminders’ to remember about some of the decisions we make in life, especially around keeping safe both personally and for those around us.

    Andy Van der Syde – Toowoomba Regional Council, Senior Organisational Development Officer
  • You are an inspiration

    Hi Hawk! Thanks so much for speaking with us today at Pacific Seeds. It made a huge impact and I’ve already had many staff members tell me how beneficial the talk was and that it really made them think. We’ve even got a worker who has now decided to call the professionals at home to do a job that her and her husband had planned to do this weekend. You are an inspiration and I look forward to seeing you in the near future for phase 2.

    Michelle Lennox, Occupational Health & Safety Office of the Toowoomba Branch of Pacific Seeds
  • Accolades and praise for Hawk Vagg’s safety presentation

    In short — bloody awesome Hawk was fantastic. He was extremely professional but also down to earth and realistic. They presented and pitched the session at exactly the right level for the audience. I am sure Hawk was able to “turn on a few lights” as I like to say. I know that some of the audience, particularly the younger workers, found it confronting initially but with Hawk’s style and honesty everyone left the room with a stronger resolve to take the actions they need to in their work fronts.

    Mike Tierney, CMC
  • Your message was very clear

    Hi Hawk, I would like to thank you for coming to our project recently to deliver your powerful safety message from your own personal experience to our BSO project employees, the message of complacency, not looking after yourself and your workmates was very clear with the outcome if you carry out an unsafe act it will change your family, friends and your life forever. The days you were here on site changed the way people looked at the safety of themselves and others and has continued since you left, your name and circumstance is often raised out in the field by the employees, at prestart and induction to site. Thanks once again and will see you again on another job.

    Regards Russell Barham | Lead EHS Specialist. Broadmeadow Sustaining Operations Project Site Address: Gate 18, Red Hill Road, PMB Moranbah QLD 474
  • I enjoyed your talk

    I enjoyed your talk and will stop and think about what you said next when going to cut corners.

    Nathan Otago

    Hi mate! or should I say LEGEND! I had a bad day yesterday dealing with stuff, Thought I had it bad! I was speechless listening to your journey! Mate you will forever be in my thoughts.

    Masey Jase
  • You could have heard a pin drop,

    Hi Hawk, I would like to thank you on behalf of Bechtel Equipment Services Gladstone for coming to our yard recently. Your presentation sent a powerful safety message to our employees from your own personal experiences. You could have heard a pin drop, the employees were so intentive. You really brought home the message of safety. We are looking forward to your next presentation.

    Bechtel Equipment Services Gladstone
  • Mate you are an insperation keep it up.,

    Hi Hawk. I felt compeled to contact you after hearing you speak to us at Commodore mine Millmerran on the 29/05/13. Mate keep telling your story if it saves one person suffering what you have gone through it will be a good outcome. Made me stop and think, Hawk i have done the same thing that you did and got away with it pure luck on my part. Mate you are an insperation keep it up.

    Regards Les Goodall