Why do people remain silent?
Imagine that a co-worker just fell off of an upside down five gallon plastic bucket that he was standing on to tighten a bolt. The fall resulted in a deep gash behind his right when the back of his head struck a valve stem and his head bounced off the concrete. You watch the EMTs provide first aid and taking vitals on him as he goes in and out of consciousness. The ambulance arrives to transport him to the hospital and you hear the on-scene EMT tell the emergency dispatcher that they need to have the paramedics meet up with the ambulance on the trip to the trauma center.
While all this is happening, it starts to sink in: just before the accident, you saw him using the bucket this way. You knew it was an unsafe act, but chose not to say anything. You just walked on to your next assignment, rationalizing in your head one or more of the reasons below as to why you did not interact.
- It wasn’t my responsibility
- I didn’t want to get involved
- I was too busy
- I did know what the fix was for his unsafe act
- I saw someone do it before and they did not get hurt
- Lots of people do the job that way
- I was uncomfortable with the idea of approaching him about his unsafe behavior
- I didn’t want a confrontation that could have immediate or long term repercussions on me
Now think for a minute and ask yourself this question: Are any of these good reasons not to approach someone and stop an unsafe act that might get them hurt?
Remember: silence is permission.