Why Do We Keep Safe?
If I offered you one million dollars to cut off your arm, would you take it? If not, then you already have something worth more than a million dollars. In fact, you have two of them. Work safety, why is it important?
This month is Safe Work Australia month. It is important that during this time we all take a few moments out of our daily routines to stop and ask ourselves the question: Why do we work safe?
Working safely generally involves obeying OHS regulations, adopting safe work practices, and always wearing appropriate PPE. When asked about what motivates us to work safely, we usually rattle off the same old superficial explanations:
- keeps my boss happy
- keeps the OHS guys off my case;
- upholds the company ‘days without incident’ record;
- gets a safety bonus;
- avoids disciplinary action or a fine; and
- keeps my job
The reason that you don’t often hear is I work safely for myself and for my family.
The Only 3 Reasons to Work Safe
Ultimately, there are only three reasons why you should be motivated to keep safe:
- for yourself;
- for your family; and
- for your work mates
When you get injured at work, the first person who suffers is you. You suffer the physical pain of the injury itself. This pain can be short lived or it can be long term depending on the type of injury incurred.
For more serious injuries, recovery can be quite a painful process as you struggle through countless operations or prolonged physiotherapy. Some injuries are permanent and can cause long term disability and lifelong suffering.
In addition, you can suffer emotional pain. Fears about not being able to return to work can cause anxiety and low self esteem. An inability to do pastimes you used to enjoy like golfing or playing cricket on the weekends can reduce your quality of life and cause depression and social isolation.
The next people to suffer are your friends and family. Your loved ones suffer from watching you go through physical and/or emotional pain. They worry about you when something first happens to you. Your family may suffer financially from loss of income. Your kids can suffer from worrying about you, and feel let down to no longer be able go camping or hiking, or to kick the ball around with you on the weekends.
In the event of a more serious incident like a brain injury or paralysis they may need to care for you. Your partner may need to leave their job to look after putting you under financial strain. Sure you might receive compensation, but often that will not equate to the higher amounts of lost income, plus if you weren’t following the safety procedures put in place by your employer, you yourself might be found liable.
And what if you died? Think of the suffering that would cause your nearest and dearest. Last year 186 people were killed at work. These are not just statistics, these are actual people just like you, who went to work in the morning to do the same job they do every other day, and had no idea that they would not be coming home at the end of the work day.
When you fail to work safely, you don’t just put your own safety at risk, but also the safety of your coworkers and the people around you. A few months ago a Melbourne construction workers was killed when a partially built brick wall came down on top of him. Investigations revealed the wall had not been adequately braced.
Imagine if you were the person who failed to brace that wall. Moreover, imagine if that person who died was your workmate, or worse still, your friend. How would you feel? How would you cope with knowing the suffering his family is going through is something you could have prevented? Imagine the emotional turmoil you would cause yourself.
Work Safe, Home Safe
The theme of this year’s Safe Work Month is ‘Work Safe Home Safe‘. It serves to remind us that the most important reason for working safely is actually not work at all, but rather getting home safely to our loved ones at the end of the work day.
To illustrate, check out the campaign T.V. commercial here, featuring the message ‘Work Safe for the Moments that Matter’:
When you go to work tomorrow, don’t put on that hard hat or follow that safety procedure because your safety officer asked you to, or because your company has gone 300 days without an incident and you don’t want to be the guy to mess it up.
Put on that hard hat for yourself and for your family. Pull on those work gloves because you like going surfing on the weekends or playing with your kids. Strap on those safety goggles because you like having a job and providing for your family. And follow those safety procedures because you value and respect your coworkers and do not want to cause them harm.
Indeed, staying healthy and getting home safely at the end of each work day should be your only motivation, and having two eyes that see, two ears that hear, two working arms and ten wiggling toes, should be the greatest possible reward.