Jul 5 2016
If you want to be safe at work, home, and play, you need to demonstrate certain characteristics that are visible by others. When someone claims that you are a safe person, they have observed something about you that resonates with being safe. Someone who is safe can be observed as committed to injury-free work, compliant with safety practices, and working with competency (skills and knowledge). People who achieve an accepted level of success in any of life’s endeavors usually demonstrate these characteristics.
Commitment is more than just saying you will do something; it means you have bought into the process. There is a funny analogy about who is more committed to providing you a bacon and egg breakfast, the chicken or the pig? Obviously the pig has given the ultimate sacrifice to provide the bacon. To be committed to something, you may have to risk standing against the norm when you point out that there is a safer way to accomplish a task. Continued improvement to reduce risk in your activities requires a constant review of current safety practices and correct analysis of hazards. Conversely, those who are less committed to safety may not be compliant with safety practices previously chosen by the group or be open to new ways to doing a task safer.
Typically, compliance can provide a barrier to injury during an accident or event. I met a lady who was lucky she did not die when her husband made a left turn at a traffic light and the passenger door opened. She clung onto the door as she swung out from the car, feet flailing in the air, and skinning her knees before he could stop. Had she had her seatbelt on, the event of the door swinging open would have certainly scared her, but she would have not been injured. By her own admission she didn’t have the seat belt on because it would wrinkle her dress. As a result, she is now committed to wearing the seat belt. Safety practices are typically in place because of previous events that caused injures or fatalities. If we are compliant to the current safety practices, we are viewed as being safe.
Being competent takes time – time to learn, practice, and understand the ‘how’, ‘what’, and ‘why’ of following safety practices. At first we may look at a safety practice and think, “That is the stupidest rule!” Take the same person and tell them that they are assigned to teach the safety practice at the next meeting and you will likely find a person who knows how to perform the practice, what to do, and can clearly tell you why the practice is important. Competency comes from being compliant and improving your job-related knowledge and skills. I practice this approach every day!
Being safe at work, home, or play means you are committed to safety and you will likely be compliant, and desire to be competent. In the end, the result is a successful, challenging and interesting life that you can look back on in your old age and say, “My life has been full and exciting because I was safe.”