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    Forum: Empower staff to speak up freely on concerns about workplace safety, Forum News & Top Stories

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    I refer to the article “Tuas plant blast sparks yet another call for safety time-out” (Sept 26).

    When it comes to unsafe workplace scenarios, silence is dangerous, such as when someone fails to report an error or a close shave, or hesitates to ask important questions out of fear of being humiliated over an ineffective suggestion.

    Psychological safety is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions and concerns, or for saying something wrong.

    It is a shared belief held by members of a team that others on the team will not embarrass, reject or punish you for speaking up.

    Psychological safety is not a new idea; it is a term from organisational psychology that has been around since the 1960s.

    The concept gained prominence in 2016, when The New York Times reported that Google’s ambitious team efficacy study, Project Aristotle, had identified psychological safety as the single most important determinant of team success.

    The ability to speak freely is inextricably linked to workplace safety.

    In analyses of preventable workplace safety incidents, there is frequently – if not in the majority of cases – evidence that someone had a concern but did not speak up about it, or did not stop someone from behaving in an unsafe way, because they did not feel psychologically safe doing so, according to the Centre for Creative Leadership.

    A psychologically safe workplace is one that “promotes employees’ psychological well-being and actively works to prevent harm to employee psychological health due to negligent, reckless or intentional acts”, according to the National Canadian Standard of Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

    Brainstorming how to empower the workforce to speak up and avoid working in an unsafe environment is the first thing companies should do in a workplace psychological safety programme.

    Han Wenqi



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