Are You Responsible For Your Own Safety?

Every safety-whiner points the finger at the company to be responsible. Personal accountability goes missing when it’s whine-time on the safety job.

who is responsible for your safety kevin burns safety speaker

So, are you responsible for your own safety? It would seem elementary. But the safety whiners, the one’s who think that the whole idea of safety is just big pain in the ass, don’t get that. They expect that the company will supply them with their eye protection, hearing protection, gloves and will pony up cash for other parts of the required and mandated safety equipment. And just like a rental car, they treat the company-purchased safety protection in the same way.

Misplaced regularly, they expect the company to replace their lost PPE items. They have built a sense of entitlement that the company owes them protection if the company wants to have a decent safety record. Somehow, the employer is responsible for ensuring that people follow the safety rules and dress in company-supplied Personal Protective Equipment.

Cue The Violins

“If we had better gloves, we’d wear them,” you hear from the safety whiners on job sites. “If we had more comfortable eye protection, we wouldn’t keep taking them off.” “It’s too hot to wear vests.” “Our hearing protection is too tight.”

These are all complaints that anyone who has spent any time in the field has heard - maybe even said. And every one of them points the finger at the company to fix it. The whole personal accountability piece goes missing when it’s whine-time.

Playing the Blame-Game

So when there’s an incident on the job site, it’s apparently the company’s fault. And the company takes the hit financially in lost time and increased insurance premiums. Also, they have to spend more money to determine what safeguards they can put in place to hopefully not repeat it. The company cleans up after the poor decision of a single worker.

But here’s the question: if the company chose to not support safety and chose not to protect you as a worker, would you go along with that and put yourself in harm’s way? Or would you choose to protect yourself and your family’s best interests regardless of what your employer might choose? You can’t seriously convince yourself that you would consider putting your life in peril and allowing your family to have to fend for themselves just to make a point. Regardless of what others might do, the safety leader will always choose safety.

Put On Your Big-Boy Pants

It should not be the responsibility of someone else to look out for your safety. Where is accountability and responsibility on the job site? Why is it the job of the safety manager or safety supervisor to look out for the employee who refuses to look out for himself? Safety is a shared responsibility. It’s no one person’s area. Every person on the job site is responsible for their own safety, the safety of those around them and, ultimately, their own happiness. But what does happiness have to do with safety?

A long time ago, you were convinced that when you found the perfect job, then you’d be happy. When you found the perfect relationship, then you’d be happy. When you had a lot of money, then you’d be happy. When you finally retired, then you’d really be happy.

Well, here’s a clue: if you’re 65 and not happy, you’re not starting now. You’re going to be the same miserable person you always were, just no job to go to. Because happiness is not a result. It is a choice. It’s the same choice you make when you choose to do what is in front of you either safely or unsafely.

Happiness And Safety

You’ve worked with a lot of miserable people at some point in your life. Maybe you’ve been that miserable person at one time or another. There are happy people and miserable people on every work site. So it’s obviously not the job that is responsible for delivering happiness or everyone would be happy. And it’s not the job that is responsible for delivering Zero in safety. If it were, everyone would be safe all of the time. No, it’s the individual decisions and attitudes in every day that get you your results. If you bring happiness with you to work in the morning, you will take it home at the end of the day. If you bring an attitude of safety with you to work in the morning, you will bring yourself home safely every day.

It’s attitude and choices that deliver safety.

It's All In Your Choices

Happiness is a choice - not a result. It’s the same choice that you make to act safely or unsafely. And it’s you that is responsible for you own happiness and your own safety. Not your job, not your partner, not your kids. You are the only one who is truly responsible.

Your attitude will determine your results in safety. In every moment of every day, you are faced with a decision: to do what is in front of you either safely or unsafely. Safety is the result. Safely is the choice. Those with a safety leadership attitude will choose safely regardless of how enticing shortcuts might be. Develop that Safety Leadership Attitude and you will find a little more joy, a little more meaning and a little more fulfillment in all that you do.

And if your safety meeting could use a makeover, download my free e-book, The Perfect Safety Meeting.

the perfect safety meeting ebook

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Topics: safety leadership, safety, safety culture