At this time of year, while most of us are busy enjoying the holidays and spending time with family, there are men and women working to keep the lights on around the world. The 24-hour routine of our industrial workforce and first responders is a reminder that while we may enjoy our down time, safety can never take a day off.
Workplace Safety in the New Year
We have a responsibility to make safety a priority on and off the job. The start of a new year is the perfect time to renew our commitment to safety – a workplace safety new year's resolution, in a way.
The problem with new year's resolutions is that it's hard to make them stick. Even when the resolution is a renewal of a commitment we've all made because we work in hazardous environments and conditions. To succeed with our workplace safety new year's resolution, we're going to follow the advice of the American Psychological Association for Making your new year’s resolution stick and follow their simple approach.
While starting small could mean focusing on one aspect of your behavior, we're going to modify this recommendation and suggest you start "simple." To start simple, focus on the one thing that you have the most control over – your behavior.
While personal behavior is not small, it is very simple. We all know when and why we cut corners around safety, so focus on modifying your behavior and identify when you're taking an unnecessary safety risk.
For example, make sure you're wearing the right gloves every time you handle equipment. Making small behavioral changes, especially when you're in a hurry, has a cascading effect on other behaviors that could lead to more serious injury.
Talk About It
We're all familiar with talking about safety, but we should also talk about our commitment to safety and ask our colleagues for help. Tell them about your workplace safety new year's resolution and encourage them to speak up when you do something that could put you at risk.
And even if you already have a stop-the-job program and everyone is required to speak up when they see something unsafe, we all know there are times we don't speak up for any number of reasons, so it's smart to remind everyone to talk about safety.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
While most new year's resolutions deal with personal development (weight loss, quitting smoking, etc.), most of us tend to give up on our goals if we stumble, fall short or cheat. Our commitment to safety is not like those resolutions – it is something that we can't give up on.
This is also why talking about our workplace safety new year's resolution is important to keep us on track.
Support and Encourage Your Peers
Having a strong support group and peers who are committed to the same goals will do a lot to help you keep your commitment to safety and reduce the overall risk level in your work environment.
Safety is contagious, but so is unsafe behavior. Don't let a few bad apples spoil the bunch. Talk to your team about why they come to work each day. The same motivations for working a physically demanding job are usually very good reasons for staying safe on that job – our families and loved ones.
The new year will be full of opportunity to do the right thing and opportunity to take unnecessary risks. Make the commitment to your personal safety today and keep up with it throughout the coming year and into the next.
Stay safe out there, and Happy New Year!