written by Dan Corcoran, OSH Academic Program Director
In America, employers are required by law to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards. This approach places the majority of the responsibility for a safe workplace squarely on the employer’s shoulder; however, since employers in high hazard industries frequently have other issues to distract them, they sometimes do not live up to this responsibility. Sometimes employees are compelled to step up in order to fill the gaps. A lot of what can be learned about safety in the workplace can also apply to safety in the home. Just like at work, it is common to have to take responsibility for our own safety, as well as the safety of our loved ones.
Stepping up and taking responsibility for the safety of one’s self and others is something of great importance. Unfortunately, many people are wired to want to take shortcuts.
Do I really need to wear safety glasses and jeans to operate the weed trimmer?
Do I really need a life vest?
Do I really need to wear fall protection at work?
I only need to text one word while driving, do I really need to pull over for that?
It is not uncommon for this kind of reasoning to find its way into our heads, especially if the actual likelihood of injury is low. It is also important to consider the consequences if things do not quite go the way we imagined. If something does go wrong, who will be impacted by the result?
Hazards can be found almost everywhere. Many of us have people in our lives who depend on us in various ways. It is important that we take care of ourselves so that we can be there for our family and friends. Assuring seatbelts are secured, requiring that children under our care wear helmets and proper protective gear when appropriate, regularly testing smoke detectors, and working safely both at work and at home are all important steps in living up to our responsibilities to be safe and to help those we love remain safe. In doing this, the risk and potential impact of injury diminishes for both ourselves and those around us.