Why Take a Chance?

Have you ever made a decision to break a safety rule? How long did it take for you to decide to break that rule? What did you gain by taking the risk? It only takes a moment to decide to ignore a safety rule, yet the consequences could last a lifetime, and it is not just the safety rule breaker who is affected. This topic provides us the opportunity to think about our personal safety, both on and off the job. We will talk about taking safety risks, your personal commitment to safety, and what you can do to keep that commitment strong.

Do you always work safely? Are you 100% committed to safety for yourself, your coworkers, your family, friends, citizens of your community? Are there times when your commitment to safety is not as strong as it should be? Have you been taking risks and getting away with it? Don’t expect your luck to continue. Sooner or later it will run out. The trouble is no one ever plans to have an accident. In fact by definition an accident is “an unplanned event”. No one wakes up in the morning and drives to work thinking, “ I’m gonna have an accident today so I’d better be careful."  No one is sure when he or she climbs on a ladder if they will fall or not. That is why it is important to have a personal commitment to safety; a commitment to do the right things to prevent an accident – or minimize the damage done in case an accident occurs.

What do you gain from taking a chance? Think about a time when you risked your personal safety. Have you ever run a yellow light? Perhaps you stretched out just a little bit more while painting on a ladder. How about disregarding that safety belt in the car? What did you gain from ignoring the safety precautions? A few seconds of time, an ounce of personal comfort or convenience? Ask yourself, “Is what I gained worth being in a serious car accident or breaking my back in a fall?" Don’t sacrifice your healthy future by taking a risky chance. Every time you are tempted to take a chance with a safety issue, ask yourself, “Is it really worth the risk?" If that doesn’t work put a loved one in that situation. Would you let them take the risk? Your family, friends and coworkers will thank you for making the right decision.

Keeping a strong commitment is not easy. What interferes with your commitment to safety? Is it peer pressure, or a deadline? You can set a safe example for your peers. Think about taking a stand for safety. By committing to safety 100% of the time, you can help reverse negative peer pressure that often causes unsafe behavior. By being an exemplary role model someday you may find that the old peer pressure has given way to something new -- the respect of your peers earned by setting a safe example.

It is normal for your commitment to safety to fluctuate. Sometimes it’s strong, and at other times it may weaken. Unfortunately, it tends to be strongest just after an accident or particularly scary close call. Then after a few days the commitment wanes, only to be strengthened again by the next tragedy. Simply recognizing this pattern will help you avoid getting into it. Think about your work habits. Have there been times when you are more likely to take a risk? Maybe you're running late and you have somewhere to be that evening. How about those times when you are extra cautious? Did the strength of your safety commitment depend on an outside event like another person being involved in an accident?

You can keep the commitment to safety strong by remembering the commitment is for you and your loved ones. If you allow things that happen to other people to determine the level of your commitment, it is likely to fluctuate a lot. You can always learn from things that happen to other people, but to keep your commitment strong all the time you must stay focused on your personal safety, the things you do that affect it, and the people who will be affected by the consequences of your injury.

Having a personal commitment to safety and keeping it strong are more important than any safety program, procedure, or rule. In fact programs, procedures, and rules depend on a strong personal commitment to safety. Ask yourself where you are with your own safety attitude and behavior. Are you 100% committed to safety, 100% of the time? Promise yourself and your family to work on it and keep that promise. You will be glad you did.


Contact OMAG Risk Management Services if you have questions or suggestions for other topics related to municipal safety issues.  You can reach Kip Prichard at kprichard@omag.org or (800) 234-9461.

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