Safety and Health Week – Together we can create safe workplaces. Image is of a woman wearing personal protective equipment on a construction worksite.Safety and Health Week gives us an annual opportunity to reinforce our commitment to creating a safe workplace. The question then is – how do we do that? Each year I ask you if one person can make a difference. And you answer that question for yourself. Are you that person?  

Safety is circular – it really has no beginning or ending. We learned to tie up our shoes so we didn’t trip when we walked. Does your safety start at home, at work or when you are enjoying your community activities? Can one be more important than the other? I don’t think so, but we do have to think about playing safely, as much as we do working safely. Each activity we do in our daily life has an effect on another piece of our lives, including those we work with and those at home. If you don’t stretch before you go to play hockey or out for a game of golf, you will likely end up with a sore muscle. How does that affect the activities you do at home or at work? 

We should always be reminding ourselves – we each own a significant piece of our personal safety. When we own that, we also take care of everyone else in our lives. At home, we don’t watch our family members do something that is unsafe, we stop them and seek if there is a better way, a safer way. We teach our children to cross the street at the crosswalk, but to still stand at the curb and look both ways. Do we do the same in our workplace – stand and look both ways? If so, you not only are watching out not only for yourself but for your co-worker. 

We watch for the physical hazards, but we also need to watch for the emotional hazards. Do we speak to our co-workers, or if you are a supervisor, those on your team as you would want to be spoken to? If we notice that someone doesn’t appear to be themselves, do we inquire if there is something we can do or do we just go ahead with our own task and ignore the individual? Of course, we don’t want to intrude on a team member’s personal life if they don’t want to share something, but we can just acknowledge that they don’t quite seem themselves. Most of us just want a listening ear. We know we can’t fix things in someone’s life – but we can show concern and caring. When a worker is injured physically it not only impacts their life – it affects the lives of their family members and those they connect with in community, and it also affects each of those individuals emotionally. Our mental health is as important as our physical health. 

Remember, you are one person who can make a difference – to yourself, your family, your co-workers, your team. You watch to ensure you work safely, your worksite looks safe, your co-worker is working safely. You share your concern for others – during Safety and Health Week, and all the year through.

Shirley Hickman