What’s the Meaning of Safe?
By Jamey Wheeler, CSP and Safety Management Consultant with Montana State Fund
How often have we heard or said the words “be safe”? From childhood to child rearing, it is said without much thought and is more likely a term of endearment. The statement “be safe” tells somebody that we care about them and don’t want them to be hurt.
What is Safe? Safety newsletters, stories, and statistics often tout safety results. You may have seen Montana’s Occupational Safety and Health Statistics. Nationally, our great state of Montana remains in the top ten list for high injury rates. You might agree that those “safety statistics” mean that occupationally we are NOT safe! Is scaling a cliff wall high above the Grand Canyon safe? Or, is it considered safe only when the mission is successfully completed unharmed? We know that a plummet to our own demise certainly isn’t safe.
Often the term “safe” is a hindsight bias defining the end result as safe while ignoring the process. We have all done things that weren’t necessarily safe while remaining unscathed. Could it be possible that the end result is sheer luck if we didn’t get hurt?
Take rock climbing for example. The sport has inherent risks. Careful planning allows climbers to safely enjoy the sport. They scout the area, identify the gear that they need, inspect their equipment, double check their knots, ropes, carabineers, use redundancy methods in case one of their systems fail, and wear protective head gear.
Likely, your occupation doesn’t bare the exact risks of rock climbing. However, if it is sitting at a desk or patrolling the mountains, there are hazards and risk of injury. We are not safe unless we are planning to avoid injury.
To be safe, we need to think, do, and act with safety in mind:
Safety is about You! Rules, regulations, policies, and procedures are established to help prevent injury. Many of these rules and regulations are written in blood. People have died or have been catastrophically injured forever changing their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The rules are there for your safety. Ultimately, you are the one who gets to choose the application of the rules. You also get to redeem the consequences of your actions. Don’t be selfish! It is not only about you! Your decisions and actions that lead to negative consequences will impact the people in your life as well. Whether it is lost ability to pick up your grandchild because your back is in so much pain, leaving your spouse behind to support a family on their own, or insert your thought on how others in your life would be affected.
Safety is about everyone that you know! Remaining safe is meticulous forethought and planning. If you’re not putting forth the safety effort luck may be the reason that you haven’t gotten hurt. Be safe!