There are so many things employers dodge doing purely for Health and Safety reasons! In this post, I give you 3 good reasons why that shouldn’t be your excuse to avoid certain tasks or activities.
We can’t take the children swimming for Health and Safety reasons.
Visitors are not allowed into the garden for Health and Safety reasons.
It is wrong to have dancers at the event because of… blah blah blah.
Ever had that said to you or even come across it? Annoying isn’t it? To me it is designed to make Health and Safety look like something from another planet as most times, it is blamed for the most illogical of things! Or just maybe it is used to escape certain tasks and responsibilities.
Have you done a risk assessment that helped you decide that activity or task would really pose some danger to the people involved? Have you come up with ways to control or reduce the level of risk? Is there a better and safer way to do it?
Risk is part of life. When we step out of our homes or get into our cars to drive, we are taking a risk as you never know what awaits you in the road. Armed robbers, reckless drivers, unsafe behaviours from pedestrians etc.
When we go to the kitchen to cook, we are taking a risk as today might be the day your knife decides to cut you. You might forget your cooking and sleep off or leave the house.
When we drop off our children at the minders’ or at school, we are taking a risk as we have entrusted our most priced possessions into the arms of “strangers”. The number of child sex abuse these days has been really alarming. Makes you doubt even your closest of allies.
Are we going to give up on life and stay home all day and everyday hoping we never come across danger? Even in your home, you can face danger. Faulty electricals that can result in fires. The cooking scenario I just explained is another classic example and has happened to the best of us. What of those who have been killed in their homes by their stalkers?
It is a given – risk is part of our everyday life but what can we do to ensure we remain safe and healthy?
1. Take a chill pill
I remember a post I put up once on LinkedIn where I stated that Safety doesn’t have to be perfect and that we all need to take it easy. A lot of people misunderstood it and I got some fire from it from some online bullies. Yes I call them bullies but they tried really hard to make people see me as someone who hated safety. Impossible! I breath, eat and live safety.
My reason for that statement on LinkedIn was due to my observation of safety professionals especially in Nigeria (no harm intended). They act like Safety police looking for who to catch and devour. They are the type who would hear you are a safety person and would start asking you questions looking to catch you out and expose you as a fraud (now that is uncool!). They make safety boring and scary. No safety shouldn’t be scary. It should be something you get better at and continually improve your workplace safety performance.
Safety should be taught in a fun and interactive way with lots of real life examples not something that looks, sounds and feels like rocket science that makes employers not bother about it. If it is made to look like rocket science, then people will naturally look for ways to avoid it.
2. Dump the Textbook!
Many safety professionals these days talk like textbooks and make Safety look boring. I wouldn’t want to be in their classroom if they ever had to teach me or deliver a training session. For example, recently I posted on LinkedIn that I needed a female assistant with some knowledge of health and safety as I already had a male PA who was clueless about Safety. The attack was gigantic.
Why choose a female? You have bad management style. Really? For choosing to employ another staff to help ease the workload and make us more productive and effective, I now had a bad management style? Are these guys serious? You are discriminating. and lots of stuff like that. The worst was when one asked me if I had gone to find out what the root cause was! The root cause? Of what exactly? That is what I mean by textbook speak. Mr Know it all. Mr Crammer who can’t think on his feet and push the textbook aside. These are the kind of people who prohibit you from certain tasks “due to Health and Safety reasons”.
3. Use your experience and add some common sense
How did you get into school safety? I get asked that all the time. Ok now I’m sure you too want to know.
So I started doing safety in 2009 in London. I started blogging about Health, Safety and Wellbeing in 2013. In 2014 I returned to Nigeria and started running my mum’s school as I needed it to be better than it was (see me thinking I could do a better job lol. It has been very difficult but thankfully with result). I continued blogging about Health, Safety and Wellbeing as that is where my passion lies.
I introduced a Staff handbook that included policies on all manner of stuff I had observed over the first few months of my working there. I noticed things were usually taken for granted. Injuries were not reported. Security man was an old dude who mostly sat or slept (he was employed out of pity) so to keep the pity going, I employed another security person (a young guy who would do most of the work while Baba stayed in the waiting room to attend to visitors and ensure they signed in and out). The list is endless but I knew I had to do something.
I made note of everything that wasn’t right. I made note of all the activities and tasks the children and teachers were involved in and of the terribly hot weather and subsequently hot classrooms. I knew I was going to do something about these notes I had taken no matter how long it took as some of them required money (not too long though – a time-frame must be attached to goals if not they are pointless!). With my experience in safety it was easy to apply it to a different industry and setting. Can you do the same? Can you apply all this knowledge you claim to have? Whatever you know and cannot be applied or used simply is useless.
If you are new to Safety, it is easy to go over the top with things but do not despair. I wrote this post specially for you. It shares some tips on how to rock as a safety newbie! I also have a course for safety newbies to help them rock at their job – you might want to check it out!
You may be wondering how far I have gone with my plans and notes? I have gone pretty far. It’s been 2 years since I made the decision to go into school safety, I started with my own school and towards the end of last year (2016), I started taking it to other schools. Yes schools are sometimes resistant but I haven’t made them weary of safety.
Do you do the same in your workplace or you pick a textbook and frustrate people with the contents?
Do you give people the chance to get used to the idea of safety seeing as in Nigeria most people don’t understand the need for Safety?
Have you helped them understand safety or you force your ways and opinions down their throats?
What about having talks with them?
Dump your textbook and get to really know your work and workforce.
Never stop a seemingly harmless task or activity for health and safety reasons. Take a chill pill, dump your textbook and use your experience and some common sense to help you decide if that task or activity is worth stopping. Have some fun.
This reminds me of a quote I saw a long time ago that still makes me laugh. “Every time I am about to take life too seriously, I remember, someone can die any f**king time” – Quote by Anon