Safety took on a whole new meaning in 2020, the year of the coronavirus pandemic. People are more concerned about safety than ever before. Everything from regular hand washing to avoiding toxic environments is now a priority. But did you know that safety is more than just avoiding certain things? It is a mindset.
At home, work, and play, the safest among us are safe because they think that way. For example, finding first aid kits in UK businesses is quite normal due to British safety regulations. But businesses throughout the UK must conduct regular risk assessments and create safety plans that mitigate risk. Safety is part of the mindset of doing business in the country.
Consider a small business owner in London. He has a safety-first mindset because he is been trained to think in terms of minimizing risk. He goes to great lengths to make sure both his employees and visitors are as safe as possible at all times.
The Reality of Acceptable Risk
Whether you live and work in the UK or somewhere else, one of the stark realities of life is that it is a risky business. It is impossible to completely eliminate all risk from the equation. This brings us to the inevitable question of acceptable risk. Like it or not, every human being accepts a certain level of risk on a daily basis.
So what constitutes an acceptable risk in any given situation? We answer this question for ourselves multiple times every day. Again, let us look to the UK as an example. According to the most recent government statistics, British drivers have a 5.6% chance of being killed in a car crash for every billion miles collectively traveled. The chances are low enough that millions of people willingly drive every day.
If we relate this to the safety mindset, there is a correlation between fatal car crashes and how people drive. Driving presents an acceptable level of risk. But most of us practice safe driving habits that minimize our risks on the road. We pay attention to the speed limit. We slow down in bad weather. We do the things necessary to prevent crashes.
Taking Risks at Work
Safety tends to get a lot of attention in the workplace for the simple fact that business owners do not need the liability associated with maintaining an unsafe environment. This leads many business owners to go a lot farther than they otherwise would to keep workers and guests safe.
Despite all of the best efforts by employers, however, workplace accidents still occur. Employees slip and fall. Forklifts crash into storage shelves. Even minor injuries, like straining one’s back as a result of improper lifting, occur all the time. But is it a matter of being unsafe, or is it accepting a level of risk that really is too high?
Employers have to walk that fine line between keeping workers safe and maintaining steady production. Throughout the UK, the EU and North America, workplaces are adorned with all sorts of safety reminders. Posters are all over the walls. Safety messages are printed on company literature. Management holds regular safety meetings and training sessions.
The point of all of this is to remind employees to purposely minimize the risks they take. As the thinking goes, keeping safety at the forefront of an employee’s mind is the best way to keep him or her from taking unnecessary risks.
Taking Risks at Home
For many of us, it is difficult to carry the workplace safety mindset home at the end of the day. There are no supervisors watching what we do in our own homes. We do not have safety posters hanging on the walls. And of course, mum and dad aren’t holding training sessions with their kids. Could this be why the majority of personal injuries are incurred at home?
Imagine a homeowner looking to clean the windows of his two-story dwelling. He doesn’t think twice about pulling out a ladder and garden hose. In his mind, washing the windows from the top of a fully extended ladder is relatively safe. He would never do the same thing at work.
This homeowner has decided that working at height on a ladder represents an acceptable level of risk. That is his mindset. His employer likely has a different mindset. Therein lies the main difference. The safety mindset among people differs because their acceptable levels of risk differ as well.
As Safe as One Thinks
The obvious conclusion in this whole discussion is that one is as safe as he or she thinks. Safety isn’t just a set of practices highlighted on posters and printed literature. Safety is a mindset. Each person’s mindset varies from everyone else’s to a certain degree. Yet none of us can ever be truly safe.
Does this mean we should not attempt to minimize risk? Absolutely not. But we must also embrace the reality that risk cannot be eliminated completely. Accidents will happen. People will be injured. The safety mindset simply allows for minimizing risks so as to keep them at an acceptable level most of the time.
This content is sponsored by Jamshed Chaudhary.