Acts of Safety-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Acts of Safety

I have often heard people say goodbye, “safe travels” or “take care”. This is an endearing farewell we extend our friends and loved ones.   But how often do we take our own advice?  Chances are, more often than you think. 

You probably perform several acts of safety every day.  Sometimes these acts seem like common courtesy such as closing the kitchen cabinets so no one might bump their head, or placing the knives in the dish drainer point down, or removing the clutter on the stairs.  These actions might be second nature and are some of my examples of everyday acts of safety.    You might be able to think of others.

We incorporate safety into our lives all the time.  With the simple act of wiping up a spill on the floor, you could be preventing an accident from occurring. You may turn the handle of the frying pan away from the edge of the stove, or place the hot steam iron on the stove top to cool.  I know it’s the law, but why do you buckle your seat belt?  You have seen how this click can make a real difference in an automobile accident.  When you purchase that new car, you ask, “Does it have side air bags?”  Out for a jog? I bet you have reflective or bright colored clothing on.  So you see, at home, safety is incorporated into many of our everyday tasks.

How about on the job?  We are responsible for each other.  Supervisors should conduct a safety analysis for every job assignment.  This may not be as onerous (or ridiculous) as it may seem.  For example, if you have employees who are typing for extended periods of time, encourage a periodic break.  This is imperative to prevent repetitive stress injuries. This sort of injury is far easier to prevent than cure. 

The principal investigator must make sure that all those in laboratories are properly trained for the specific task they are assigned and that they know what to do if things go wrong.   This simple risk analysis can be completed by asking oneself, “what if?” 

Don’t you wish those who search for oil on offshore rigs had asked themselves that question?

By: Madelyn Miller