Generally, bringing work home with you is never a good thing. But, when it comes to a strong safety culture, we should all be making an exception.
Very few industries focus more on safety than ours, and for good reason; risk is inherent in the work we all do. So, to remain safe, daily safety briefings, training and PPE are commonplace. And yet, who of us has made any attempt to apply these practices at home, or even discuss with those we love the most, the benefits of a strong safety culture. The truth is, very few of us.
We spoke to Justin Ganschow, Caterpillar Safety Expert about why this is.
“When we’re at work, there’s a safety net because people are watching. But outside of work, either no one is watching, or people don’t think it’s their job to say anything about safety. So, it’s all on us to make the safe choices. Coupled with this is the fact, when people are overly familiar with a situation or task, they start ignoring safety red flags. It’s how the brain works. The first time you do something you spend more time preparing and thinking consciously about it. But the more times you do it, you think about it less and it becomes automatic. Your brain conserves energy this way. The hazard hasn’t changed, but our conscious focus on it has.”
Justin’s solution to this is to take a moment before you get started to ask yourself: What’s at stake if something goes wrong? And how can I consciously mitigate the risks?
As he explains, “If we make safety solely about rules and policies without understanding why we take precautions (what’s at stake if we get hurt), then we’re missing the point and missing the opportunity to make a real impact.”
It’s this approach that helps create a safety culture at home, especially when it comes to children. It’s always best to be upfront with your kids about risks but also to stay positive, you want them to recognize hazards without feeling so afraid that they’re unable to act.
It’s also a good idea to keep things fun. A game of hopscotch is a way of seeing how well your kids remember important numbers. See if they can hop out 911 or your cell phone number. Pose helpful questions like, “What number do you call if you smell a fire in the house?”
Role-playing can also be a great way to practice safety skills. You and your child can play pretend that there’s a hurricane or tornado outside. Make sure to teach them where your emergency kit is and where they need to hide.
And don’t forget positive affirmation. When you see your child doing something safe, such as putting on a bike helmet without being asked, pause to recognize the good behavior. It can be as simple as saying “Hey, I noticed you put on your helmet on your own. Good job!”
We’ll leave the last word to Justin. “Know that building a culture of safety, whether at work or at home, is a continuous improvement journey. You don’t have to have it all figured out from the start. But you have to start. Safety can be simple, but you have to think and turn your intentions into action.”