Leading Our Families to the Right Side of Safety

Safety shouldn't be a hat we only wear at work, how do we fly our safety flag at home?

17 July 2015

Even the most seasoned of us, who proclaim to have our eye on the safety ball… sometimes drop it. We are so dedicated in the workplace, looking out for risks and hazards; not only to protect ourselves but our colleagues, team mates and contractors; yet, sometimes we miss key opportunities in our home and social environments because we don't consider those to be 'high risk activities'. It is a challenge, the balancing act between not being seen as overboard or a 'Safety Sargent'; but still leading our families to the right side of safety.

Apparently moving home is the equivalent stress of dealing with a death – rather high and potentially quite hazardous! A friend recently moved and shared the following lessons with me.

Keep the goal in mind, and make sure the goal is clear and easy to remember. Tensions run high when packing and family need to be reminded of the rewards that the new home will bring. Picture the vision of everything in place and out of boxes.

Plan big tasks with everyone involved. Have a plan in place before the day of the move, which person will be responsible for what, where and when. Agreeing roles and responsibilities beforehand limits frustration and blow ups.

Be humble; remember that your friends or family may genuinely not see the potential risk or hazard.

Have critical safety conversations when you see someone putting themselves in the line of danger. Discuss tasks such as manual handling and how to pick up boxes etc. without causing injury; and most importantly when to ask for help!

Ask family and friends to identify risks and discuss measures to reduce the risk. What could go wrong during the process?

Collectively agree contingency plans. You may be more safety conscious, but leading your family to the right side of safety is all about getting buy-in and belief that it is the right thing to do; not because they are being forced by 'Mr Safety!'

Identify and introduce appropriate PPE for the planned task. Would we allow manual handling without the correct gloves or PPE at work? Definitely not, why then do we allow it at home? Often it is because we don't see our home as a high hazard area, yet this is our family in the line of injury.

Practice ABBI whenever appropriate - look Above, look Below, look Behind, and look In-front; and ask yourself 'What could go wrong?' Especially when rearranging furniture, no one wants a pile of books landing on their head from the top shelf of the bookcase you are moving, or worse!

Always lead by example. Our safety instinct is always there; we need to learn to trust it at work and at home to encourage those we care for to move to the right side of safety.

We have a choice to lead our family and friends to the right side of safety, and in the words of Don Merrell, I hope you never have to say 'I could have saved a life that day, but I chose to look the other way.' Rather smile; knowing that you brought your team, your colleagues and your family closer to the right side of safety.

Today’s expert blogger is Nuala Gage, Principal Consultant for Intertek’s Performance Safety & Environment Group. Nuala is located in the Sub-Saharan Africa office and brings more than 10 years’ experience in the industry of learning development and safety training