Health and Safety Chat

Safety, is it a way of life?

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Steve Schroder

9 November 2016

Anyone who has a teenage son as I do knows that they become like little cave men hiding out in their rooms, talking to their friends on the plethora of devices available to them and generally being unsociable.

So to combat this weekend just gone, I dragged my son from his devices and roped him (quite unwillingly at first) into help me out at my parents’ house cutting a tree down and doing some general garden work.

At the end of the day, as I was sitting having a beer with my father on his deck after cutting down four trees (you want to talk about scope creep!), talking over the events of the week and laughing about some of the silly things that we have seen over the Christmas holidays, I was suddenly taken aback by something. How I had practiced what I preach without even realising that I was doing it.

As we had started that day the task was quite simple, take out that tree over there. So I did what anyone would do, went and had a look to see how I was going to get it done. It was what I did next without thinking that surprised me at the end of the day.

I called my son and my dad over and conducted a safety toolbox talk about; how we were going to take it out, where we were going to tie that ladder off, the slope and the dangers of the slope, where he was going to stand as I was taking the tree down in sections and that PPE we were going to wear.

you do need to be able to do is be able to prove that you are taking all reasonable and practicable steps to manage the health and safety risks in your business.

So diligently my son trudged off to find the safety glasses, gloves, hard hats, rope to tie the ladder off, etc. When he had gathered all the gear we conducted a pre-start check of all of the gear we were using, including the ladder and chainsaw to ensure that it was fit for purpose and in good condition.

As we started to take this tree down, I was pleased to see the he was wearing all of the PPE with no complaint and was using both visual and audio cues to get my attention and asked questions prior to undertaking anything new as well as following everything that we had agreed on to keep him and me safe.

For each tree that got added to our list, we went through the same process (minus the pre-start checks) of assessing the risks and discussing how we were going to take the trees out safety.

Now all of the safety briefings and pre-start checks I did without even thinking, and this come from years of running high risk facilities and having the rigors of safety taught to me over this time, but what got me thinking was how I did this subconsciously and how early is too early to start teaching people that it is safety first?

The answer to the second part of that question is it is never too early. Safety should be a way of life, and in actual fact is for a lot of people. It also does not need to be arduous! Most safety briefings take less than 5 min, and you do what you normally do when undertaking anything new. Do you need to take note when you do these sorts of briefings at home like we do at work? Probably not, but most importantly you need to do them.

These early learnings form habits that stay with people of the rest of their lives, and when they do eventually get into the workforce they have a foundation from which to build their safety knowledge of whatever industry they choose to belong to, be it from office work to warehousing, forestry to mining.

And who knows one day we might get to that utopia where safety is so in ground in our culture that we are inherently safer in everything that we do.

Normally I would have been giving some sort of advice and tying it back to a service that Smart Safety can offer however this time I will just leave you with the following message: – Non-standard tasks pose some of the biggest risks to staff and employers of anything you will undertake. These tasks are normally done out of necessity rather than want and are managed by some companies in a variety of ways from very well to very poor. How do you manage your non-standard tasks and do you know the risks involved?

Does this mean we will be able to remove the risk from everything we do? No. there will always be a risk in our life but properly managed these risks can be reduced to levels whereas in the weekend the worst thing that happened was I got a splinter! Safety doesn’t have to be hard we can do this!

Contact either Steve or Susan for a free confidential chat.
Susan 021 570 570 or Steve Schroder 021 452 930