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Accidents- You’re only as safe as you think!

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You’re only as safe as you think!

We’re safe right? So why do we have accidents?

One of the main reasons that people have accidents is because of their mindset, and the same goes for businesses.  We are all cognitively set to perceive things the way we view them.

Example 1

Do you think knives should point upwards in the dishwasher or should they point downwards? 

This is a great debate in my house. I obviously think they should go downwards due to the risk of cutting myself, whereas my partner believes they should point upwards as he thinks they clean better.

However, I have seen someone badly cut themselves on a knife in a washing up bowl, and he hasn’t!  So for him, I am just taking Health and Safety too far, but I can’t understand why he doesn’t see the risk.  It’s a matter of our previous experiences giving us a different perception of the risk.

Every time we do something unsafe and are uninjured it reinforces the behaviours and makes us braver to do it again and again.

Example 2

We’re taught as children about how to cross the road.  There were even jokes as a kid about crossing the road where the chicken fared far better than the hedgehog. I remember the policeman visiting our school and my class all practising in the school hall and receiving a sticker for our efforts LOL!  How proud we all were telling our parents off if they did it incorrectly after that, a kind of mini revenge for all the times they’d told us.

How many of us as adults cross the road before getting to the zebra crossing, most of us have probably done it.

We do it because it’s quicker than going ten metres out of our way to cross where we want.  I recently went to London to visit a friend and they just stepped out in the road and (in my humble opinion,) didn’t leave a lot of time for him to cross………. Even to the point that some of the cars had to slow down.

Why would they do such a thing?

Now I live in suburbia, rush hour consists of 5 cars in a queue getting out of our part of the town. So I just stood nervously on the pavement and insisted to use the zebra crossing.  The thing is, my friend was bought up in suburbia too, but because he has dodged the risk so many times over the years he doesn’t perceive the danger anymore.

There are a lot of reasons that people work unsafely due to deep-rooted thought patterns that are simply a part of them.  It sounds hopeless that you can ever change these mindsets, but it is possible.  The same applies to companies running on luck.  It is possible to learn and understand the consequences of little or no action-

perhaps even too much action……… yes there is such a thing.

So how on earth do we stop accidents?

How do we get the idea embedded in our business and employees that we are only as safe as we think?

There is a whole branch of psychology in behavioural psychology: The HSE has a fantastic publication called HSG 48- Reducing Error and Influencing Behaviour, but it’s not a light read at 73 pages and still only touches on the topics.

The topics include

  • The general impact of human error and behaviour;
  • The potentials effects by these and other factors on workers’ physical and mental health
  • Practical ideas on how to identify, assess and control risks arising from
    such issues; and
  • Case studies detailing how various organisations approach
    these challenges.

It’s an interesting document but like most health and safety guidance, they take time to read.

You have to try and understand them on top of everything else. Do you have time to read all of the safety guidance and legislation related to your business?

How a Health and Safety Consultant can help your business.

Health and safety professionals a lot of us train to a minimum of a bachelor’s degree level and have a lot of experience dealing with accidents and managing our clients through the investigation.  But if you’ve done the same thing for years, (perhaps done it unsafely,) and never had an accident, then Health and Safety might to seem pointless to you.

When you start to make sure you’re Health and Safety management is robust then it will definitely minimise the chance of accidents.  So again, you might not see any accidents, and so it will continue to feel like money down the drain,#. But Health and Safety is not just accidents and loss, its also the proactive things that your business does. A Health and Safety expert can help you find and use those positive things and really make a difference to your staff well-being and profit.

An accident is far more expensive than preventing one.

So ask yourself again- Are you as safe as you think?

What have you got to lose………………….stupid question?

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