Personal Safety - Your Responsibility
We often hear these days about ‘who is to blame’ for something going wrong or someone being hurt. It might be the fault of the Government who should pass a law about it, the person who stopped too suddenly so you went into the back of them, the piece of equipment that was not properly maintained, but at the end of the day the person ultimately responsible for your own personal safety is you.
All workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled and under health and safety law the primary responsibility for this is down to employers. However, workers have a duty to take care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their actions at work. They must co-operate with employers and co-workers to help everyone meet their legal requirements. At the end of the day it is down to the individual to implement what they have learned and to follow the procedures their employer has laid down to control risks.
When staff are pushed for time, overloaded with work and under pressure, it can be tempting to cut corners and not perform a task as they have been trained to do, safely. Individuals make everyday decisions about the tasks they perform and their decisions can directly reduce or increase the risk to themselves and others.
Using lone working as an example, we all make choices in the course of our work – the route we take, where we park, when we ask for help, which can all impact on the level of risk we place ourselves in. If you know you are visiting someone who has a history of verbal or physical assault, you have a responsiblity to implement the risk control procedures your organisation will have laid down, such as advising someone where you are going and when you expect to be back, asking for someone to accompany you, changing the time of the visit, using emergency code words or speaking to your manager to explain your concerns.
If you have had conflict management training, only you can decide if you feel it has equipped you to manage the situation safely.
By taking responsibility for your own safety and working with your employer you can significantly increase your awareness and engagement, leading to a safer and more positive working environment.
The key worker responsibilities for health and safety at work are:
- to take reasonable care not to put other people - fellow employees and members of the public - at risk by what you do or don't do in the course of your work
- to co-operate with your employer, to make sure you get proper training and that you understand and follow the company's health and safety policies
- follow the training you have received when using any work items your employer has given you
- not to interfere with or misuse anything that's been provided for your health, safety or welfare
- to report any injuries, strains or illnesses you suffer as a result of doing your job, your employer may need to change the way you work
- to tell your employer if something happens that might affect your ability to work, like becoming pregnant or suffering an injury. Your employer does of course also have a legal responsibility for your health and safety and they need to know about something before they can find a solution
- to tell someone (your employer, supervisor, or health and safety representative) if you think the work or inadequate precautions are putting anyone’s health and safety at serious risk.
Health and Safety Law, What you Need to Know
nidirect.gov.uk Employees Health and Safety Responsibilities
See also: Lone Worker Safety
Posted by Maybo on March 7, 2016
From MRW Water Cooler:
Q: My husband works on the oilrigs as a well tester. We watched you folks do so without any eye protection! Are you crazy? Drilling a hole with no protective eyewear? Between him, a well tester, and me, a workers’ compensation lawyer, we’re cringing! Somebody could LOSE AN EYE! Seriously – Safety First, fellas! I would expect better from the Discovery Channel!! — suzemommy
I sincerely appreciate your concern for me, and agree that stupidity plays an ongoing role in my professional and personal life. But believe me, I have no wish to be injured on the job.
However, it is not the objective of Dirty Jobs to conform to any particular set of safety standards, other than those dictated by the people for whom I happen to be working at the time. I take my cues from them, and I assume whatever risk they assume, for the most part. In the end, we hope to capture an honest look at what life is like for the workers in a particular venue. We do not aspire to set an example, or be a poster child for OSHA or any particular industry. I realize that may sound controversial, but it’s the truth, and not nearly as inflammatory as what I’m going to say next.
Of all the platitudes automatically embraced in the workplace – and there are many – there is none more pervasive, erroneous, overused, and dangerous, than “Safety First!” in my opinion.
I have heard this slogan countless times. I have seen it emblazoned on banners, T-shirts and hats. I have sat through mandatory briefings and slideshows and presentations designed to “protect me from the hazards at hand.” And I have listened as safety officers and foreman have run down list after list of OSHA requirements, all apparently construed to remind me that nothing is more important to the employer than my own well-being. What a load of unmitigated nonsense.
In the jobs I have seen thus far, I can tell you with certainty, that safety, while always a major consideration, is never the priority.
Not even once.
Is it important? Of course. But is it more important than getting the job done? No. Not even close. Making money is more important than safety – always – and it’s very dangerous in my opinion to ignore that. When we start to believe that someone else is more concerned about our own safety than we are, we become complacent, and then, we get careless. When a business tells you that they are more concerned with your safety than anything else, beware. They are not being honest. They are hedging their own bets, and following the advice of lawyers hired to protect them from lawsuits arising from accidents.
You are correct to suggest that wearing safety glasses would have made the task at hand safer. But why stop there? Wearing a helmet would have made it safer still. And wearing a steel mesh shark-suit would have made it really, super safe.
I know that sounds glib, and I know that many will wish to scold me for appearing cavalier. But really, I’m not. In a car, I wear a safety belt. On a motorcycle, I wear a helmet. Not because it’s the law, but because it seems a reasonable precaution. And ultimately, the only one responsible for my own safety is me. (Besides, if the government were really concerned with my safety above all else, wouldn’t they drop the legal speed limit to 30 miles an hour and make cars out of rubber?)
Again, you’re right – I probably should have been wearing safety glasses, not because safety is first, but because I like to hedge my bets.
We can always be safer. We can always assume less risk. But if safety were really first, I wouldn’t travel at all, or engage in any activity that required me to assume any risk. And I certainly wouldn’t be hosting Dirty Jobs.