Editor's Note: Keeping each other safe
Every June, the National Safety Council observes National Safety Month. This year’s theme is “Keep each other safe.”
In keeping with that theme, Safety+Health contributor Susan Vargas explores safety conversations and why they can be tough to have – both for a safety professional speaking with a front-line worker or a member of the rank and file approaching a colleague.
I’ve experienced the “co-worker” scenario firsthand. In the stairwells at NSC headquarters are signs saying “please hold the handrail,” as well as murals demonstrating this. They were put in place years ago as part of an internal initiative created after council staff experienced a number of slips, trips and falls on the stairs. Although the near-germophobe in me winced at the idea of holding the handrail, doing so quickly became a habit, and now I automatically reach for the handrail on any set of stairs. I also stress the importance of it to new members of my team and, when interviewing job candidates, I show them the stairwell to illustrate that NSC takes safety seriously.
What’s less easy is speaking up to someone I don’t know well on the rare occasions when I’ve observed a staff member not holding the handrail. I admit that a few times I haven’t said anything even though I knew I should have. It’s something I’m working to improve.
For the article, Susan spoke with experts about what safety pros can do to make their own safety conversations more productive and to help create an atmosphere in which workers feel comfortable and empowered to speak up and keep each other safe.
Happy National Safety Month.