Silence Isn't Golden

Ever locked yourself out of the house? Taken a wrong turn on your way to an important meeting? Spent too much time trolling social media when you should be studying? Watched the clock strike 3:00 PM only to realize you still haven’t eaten lunch? Anyone can get distracted by life’s competing priorities. 

Sometimes, those diversions have much more destructive consequences than a missed deadline or 20 minutes that simply disappeared. In fact, they can be deadly. This is especially true in the construction industry, where workers must maintain a laser-like focus to safely operate and work around dangerous equipment and machinery. Whether it’s erecting scaffolding, maneuvering a crane or simply passing through an active jobsite, there is no wiggle room for the white noise of life to creep inside the fence. 

Which makes it all the more important for workers to speak up when they see anything unsafe. But we know that all too often in our industry, workers are reluctant to do so. It’s why Balfour Beatty launched a national campaign called “See Something, Say Something” in support of our Zero Harm mission. We want everyone who comes into contact with a Balfour Beatty project to know that it is both their right and responsibility to voice concerns when they observe hazardous conditions or behaviors.

While the act of speaking up may seem like a given, studies show there are a number of factors that make construction workers reluctant to intervene. For example, we know there may be more hesitation from junior workers or from one trade to another—particularly if it involves approaching someone perceived as more senior. 

Conversely, people often (falsely) assume that seasoned workers never put themselves at risk. There’s also a prevalent belief that people fully understand all of the safety requirements for their craft or within their work zone. Time can be a factor, with trades challenged to push through tough deadlines. Workers may fear retaliation, losing out on safety incentives or damaging relationships. Whatever the reason, the result in the same: lives remain at risk when people choose to stay silent. 

See Something, Say Something. These four words represent much more than a catchy slogan. They’re fundamental to our belief that when it comes to safety, each voice matters, and each voice should be heard. If you spot an unsafe act, condition or behavior on a Balfour Beatty jobsite, pick up the phone. Grab your supervisor. Radio the general superintendent. Approach the worker directly. The time is always right to step up and ask, “Hey, is this correct?” Because the toughest question of all to answer is, “What if I don’t?”