TOTE Maritime Alaska News & Media


Seth Storset, Director of Safety

Unsafe Acts and What We Can Do

Do you know what the leading cause of workplace incidents is? Unsafe Acts. Data shows that nine out of ten incidents are caused by people - not machine malfunctions, not environmental hazards, but individuals making poor decisions. Although creating a safe and hazard free work environment is crucial, changing behaviors is key to developing a strong safety culture.

Why do we commit unsafe acts when we really know better? Think about it. We are a greater risk to ourselves than any job hazards around us.  

Most of us tend to think about getting the job done and we devalue the risk of getting injured. We fall into the trap of thinking we’ve done a task so many times before and nothing has ever happened that we think to ourselves, nothing bad ever will happen. The potential for injury is low, so the chances are pretty good nothing will happen.

Not true! We know the right way, we realize the risk, but instead of being more careful, we think to ourselves, “it won’t happen to me.”

Here are a few things to consider about Unsafe Acts:

  • Taking Shortcuts – We want to get things done. This can be caused by the wrong incentives, pressure, laziness, poor training, and so on. Taking shortcuts usually means skipping a detail and removing a safety defense barrier. For instance, ignoring rules and procedures because it will take more time. Listen to that inner voice.
  • Overconfidence – Whether it's from years of experience or a lack of experience, being overconfident causes teams and individuals to falsely believe their skills and abilities are greater than they are. Understand your abilities.
  • Complacency – Being complacent often comes from years of experience doing the same thing. We get confident and comfortable with our tasks and pay less attention to the hazards in our work. Be alert.
  • A Negative Attitude - Negativity can lead to accidents because anger and frustration nearly always overrule caution. Remember to stay cool and in charge of your emotions.

There are many reasons why unsafe acts occur. Despite what those reasons may be, one thing is for sure - injuries will happen if unsafe acts continue. Unsafe acts are the root of most injuries; when paired with unsafe conditions it is likely someone will be injured. Usually, it is the person who is responsible for the unsafe act that gets hurt. Even worse, a bystander is injured due to the unsafe actions of another person.

Here is what we can do:

  • Speak up! If you see something unsafe, say something. It might be uncomfortable, but it could be the difference of life, injury or death.
  • Take Action! Practice Stop Work Authority when you see an unsafe act.

At TOTE Maritime Alaska we are committed to safety, without exception. We expect our employees and partners to be leaders in safety and look out for one another. No matter the situation, we have zero tolerance for retribution by embarrassment, shame or bullying.

It does not matter how big or small a concern is. It could be from a safety standpoint or an understanding of the job in general; every employee has the right to stop work. It is the responsibility of the manager and supervisors to support and resolve the issue.

Identifying unsafe acts and why they take place is important but speaking up and taking action will change our behaviors and ultimately improve our safety culture.

Arrive Home Safe

Safety drives every decision and action at TOTE, period. Safety is at the heart of our culture. It’s at the beginning of every decision we make, and it’s at the end of every decision we make. The commitment is more than just the words that we say or write down on paper. The commitment is in our actions, and how what we do and how we carry ourselves on a day-to-day basis. We will Arrive Home Safe everyday.