Who is responsible for your safety on the job? If you had to pick one person to blame for you getting hurt; who would it be?
While at lunch last week, I overheard a conversation between two young ladies. The one was telling the other an animated story about how she almost got run over by a big pickup truck while out for a jog.
“I was on the crosswalk and this guy rolls through a stop sign without doing a shoulder check and almost brushed me with his mirror.”
I assume he was turning right and did not check to see if someone was about to cross. I also guess she was wearing yoga pants and earbuds; rocking out to Taylor Swift while not really paying attention to the traffic around her. The yoga pants and Taylor Swift may just be my imagination; I love Taylor Swift and I love yoga pants, even though they do nothing for my figure.
Other girl responds, “Oh my God! That is so scary!”
“Yeah, but I mean like; whatever. It totally would have been his fault. I was on the crosswalk!”
What the hell kind of logic is that? It seemed as though her biggest concern was with who would be to blame if she went under his tires; and that as long as it was not her fault then all would be sunshine, puppy dogs and rainbows. I can just imagine jogging girls’ parents accepting condolences at her funeral. With friends and family crying their eyes out, some empathetic person approaches and states how sorry he is for their loss.
Mom smiles and nods, “Yeah, but don’t worry. It wasn’t her fault. The police say they found her battered body right in the middle of the crosswalk.”
“Our daughter was no stupid girl.” Cheery Dad exclaims, “I mean it’s not like she was jay-walking or something. Hahaha!”
Try again yoga pants!
You see, when an accident occurs the victim is the victim. When it comes to pain and suffering, it really doesn’t matter who is at fault. Jogging girl is not the only person I have heard say this. Numerous drivers have told similar stories. They are following the laws of the road and it seems they are unconcerned with how others drive because they will not be held responsible for someone else’s actions. This is all fine except that, as already stated, being innocent offers zero comfort for paralysis, a broken leg or brain injury and also, most insurance firms are now penalizing you in some way or another even if you are not found to be in the wrong. They seem to recognize the benefit of defensive driving. Of course there are times when no amount of defensive driving (or defensive jogging) can deliver you clear of harm’s way; this doesn’t mean we can ignore the chances we do have to check both ways even if the light is green, slow down for intersections, stay clear of others blind spots, anticipate where others are going and so on and so forth. There is a lot at risk while we are on the road and it is in our best interest to drive defensively.
The same goes for our everyday workplaces. Through health and safety training, we learn the responsibility of staying safe never lies on one single person. It is to be jointly shared between the employer, managers, foreman, worker and co-worker. Even though ultimately when an accident happens, it is the employer who will most likely be held responsible with regards to law enforcement and work safe regulation; it is still our asses that will end up in the hospital, first aid room or maybe even the morgue. We all have a responsibility to safety but let’s not forget that regardless of where blame will fall, we are the ones with the most to lose.
So how do we work defensively?
Exercise your right. Canada has legislation in place that not only allows a worker to refuse unsafe work without discrimination, but requires it!
Be aware of others working around you. This should be a standard pre-job check. Who is working below me, around me and above me?
Don’t turn a blind eye. If you see someone working unsafe, it is expected that you address the situation. You could actually be held liable if it comes to light that you witnessed and never addressed an unsafe act or condition. To the point of this article, if you see someone stacking heavy items precariously on the top shelf, keep in mind it could be your head they land on; talk to the worker first, and then union leaders if required.
Be involved in Health and Safety. Health and Safety committees can be quite frustrating; however they are one of the best places to stay informed on all the safety concerns at your workplace.
Thanks for reading, please add your comments (Good, bad or ugly) below.