Bring Safety into Focus
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. So, take a moment and imagine a mental snapshot of yourself at work. Are you giving your full attention to the situation and looking out for yourself and your team? Or is your mind off someplace else?
When you are mentally focused on the job, you can recognize and respond to hazards that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. That could spell the difference between staying safe and suffering an injury. And when you get involved in building a culture of safety at work, you help ensure that all your coworkers go home safely every night, too.
Picture this: You are going about your day at work, but your mind is on a conversation you had last night or the errands you need to run this evening. There is a spill on the floor, but in your distracted state, you don’t even see it as you walk along. The next thing you know …
You can already guess where this story is heading. When you aren’t paying attention to what you are doing and watching out for potential hazards, you are at risk for accidents and injuries, at work and in other areas of your life. Here are some ways to sharpen your observational skills:
Practice situational awareness—careful, deliberate attention to the cues in your environment along with understanding of what they mean. If a warning light is flashing on and off, for example, you need to not only notice the flashing, but also know how to respond effectively. Or if you get a new desk chair, you need to not only notice whether it supports your body in a healthy position, but also know how to readjust it if necessary.
Pay close attention to any equipment you use. Notice whether it is guarded correctly and working properly.
Anticipate what could possibly go wrong so you can take steps to avoid a mishap.
Give the task of driving your full attention while behind the wheel. Distracted driving claims more than 3,400 American lives each year—and all these deaths are preventable.
Being safe requires constant awareness of what is going on now and anticipation of what could happen next. We need to work at this skill until it becomes something we do automatically.
Now zoom in on your contribution to the safety of those around you. Do you take responsibility not only for your own safety, but also for the welfare of other team members? Here are some ways to get involved and do your part to keep others out of harm’s way:
Remind yourself that a careless action on your part could put a coworker at risk. That’s a powerful incentive to follow safety procedures every time.
Avoid distracting others when it could be dangerous; for example, while they are operating machinery or driving.
Share your safety knowledge with your coworkers and supervisor.
Take your responsibility for safety seriously outside of work as well. If you come across information that might help your family, friends, and neighbors stay safer, pass it along.
Get the picture? At work, safety excellence depends upon the actions of every member of the team. When we have 100 percent participation, we are all stronger and safer.