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Toolbox Talk - Making the Right Call

Max People Health & Safety Bulletin

Deciding to follow every safety procedure does not come naturally to us. We need to constantly think and work hard to make the right decisions every day. Quite often, individuals find ways to rationalize not working safely. Each worker needs to recognize this mindset and act when it happens.

Why We Rationalize Unsafe Choices

Most of the time, we know the right choice when it comes to doing a task safely. Safety training, policies, procedures, Safe Work Method Statements, etc. tell us what and how tasks need to be done to mitigate hazards and work safely. The problem is, there are many factors that affect whether we want to make the right decisions at each moment.

A few of these factors include:

  • Time pressure
  • Lack of supervision around
  • Lack of enforcement of rules
  • Energy levels
  • Mood

Individuals facing one or more of these factors will use them to rationalize why a certain safety rule does not need to be followed. For example, “I’ll use this ladder and over-reach instead of finding a mobile scaffold. The boss wants this job finished ASAP”. We have all rationalized poor choices- whether it was choosing to use a ladder or rationalizing hitting snooze seven times before getting out of bed.

“It is the Normal Thing to Do”

When there are other people around who are not making the right choices when it comes to safety, it becomes the “normal” thing to do despite not being the right thing. When the norm is working unsafely, it makes it difficult for individuals who want to work safely. Do not rely on your Supervisor or the Health and Safety person to tell you to do the right thing. Choose to do what is right despite what others may be doing.


Recognize when you are falling into the trap of rationalizing a poor decision, whether in your personal life or on the job. Fight the urge to take the easy decision. Be a worker who follows the rules and help to reinforce ‘the norm’ of adhering to safe work practices and procedures.