“Safety First!” is a philosophy one would like to instill in all work environments. No one would want to work in an environment where they feel unsafe on a daily basis or are constantly afraid that they might be injured. In every workplace, there should be health and safety regulations in place.

Not only is the employer responsible for health and safety. Every employee has a responsibility towards employers, fellow employees, and him/herself regarding this very important issue. How then, can every employee work towards a “safety first” culture in the workplace?

  • Be Equipped

Knowledge is power and every employee can contribute towards their own and others’ safety by being educated regarding the hazards in their workplace as well as the health and safety regulations that have been set in place. Make sure that you have been trained adequately in the use of machinery and equipment. Education in the field of health and safety should be offered by your employer, but it is an employee’s own responsibility to pay attention when trained and to make sure they understand and practice those methods and principles. Senior and experienced employees should also endeavor to mentor and train younger and less experienced employees.

  • Use Resources Well

Although the responsibility lies with the employer to provide the necessary tools to ensure the safety of their employees, the employees are the ones who have to put them to good use.  Make sure to heed the signs, warning posters, manuals, and directions in the workplace. Observe the required regulations that will be conducive to a safer environment. Read, study and follow health and safety directions carefully. Make use of the appropriate protective apparel provided by your employer in a manner fitting for the particular resource.

  • Communication is Key

It is important that everyone participates in the safety of their environment: communication between employees and their colleagues will be a key element towards this goal. It is crucial to report any health and safety issues as soon as a person becomes aware of them. An employee should be quick to report any incidents that they are involved in. Employees should have the freedom to approach management when they are convinced that there are health and safety regulations that are not being followed or that are lacking. Open and frank communication will save lives.

  • Risk Assessment
  • The Level of Acceptable Risk (LOAR) is the level of risk an employee is willing to take or accept to perform a task or operation before he or she feels the risk is too great. Each time an employee takes a risk while performing a job and achieves success without injury or adverse results, their LOAR rises. An employee might think, “I’ve done this a hundred times and nothing has happened to me. I’m going to keep doing it this way. Nothing will happen to me.” A person must, however, learn to lower their LOAR and incorporate safety procedures as they strategise to lower or remove the risk. The aim is not to get as close to the edge of the proverbial cliff as possible but to be as careful and safe as possible.

    • Law Abiding

    An employee is appointed and has to adhere to the health and safety regulations put in place by the organisation. Every organisation is bound to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, and employees would do well to familiarise themselves and subject themselves to this law.