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It won't Happen To Me!

Workplace Safety

Are we tired of being nagged about ‘Safety in the Workplace’?

The ads on TV, the seminars we go to, and the courses we study, all try to challenge the mind-set that we naturally have that, “it won’t happen to me!”

Until you, a friend or a colleague is involved in a workplace accident, it is easy to convince yourself that you are safety conscious at work and that you have the instinct to avert any accident that might be heading your way.

Within one single fortnight, I nearly lost three students to workplace accidents in separate incidents at separate locations. We had studied Workplace Safety in our course!

One person stepped on a sheet of glass roofing whilst dismantling a building and fell through it. He avoided death by grabbing a beam by one hand; leaving him dangling 15 meters above the factory floor that was then covered in broken glass. Nevertheless, he bled heavily from a large gash in his leg caused by the angle grinder he was using.

A second student was severely cut in the chest by a broken window that fell apart as he was replacing it. The glass was embedded in his chest missing his heart by about 0.5cm.

The third student suffered burns to his face and hands from a fire-ball in an automotive workshop accident. His colleague accidentally ignited petrol fumes in the workshop with sparks from an angle grinder.

I will let you determine the safety issues that surround these incidents and how they could have been avoided or mitigated!

When I worked in the adventure industry, I employed some very intelligent and safety conscious staff. Yet I would often wander into the warehouse and need to coach staff to be safe. Minor safety issues like lifting trailers onto vehicle towing hitches without using the jockey wheel, climbing onto the unsupported roof above the office to store equipment, and carrying equipment over 35kg without aid might have resulted in long-term serious disabilities.

So why do people tune-out to safety in the work place? How can organisations protect these people and those around them? Who is ultimately responsible for your safety? What should you do if you see unsafe practices in your workplace, but your managers don’t listen to your calls for change?

Studying Workplace Safety could be the most important Professional Development that you ever do! Practising it is even more important!

Tim Sillcock

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