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Thoughts on Safety - Summer Edition


I was listening today to Doctor Radio and they were interviewing an ER Nurse on her experience during the summer months. First of all, she said that the frequency of ER visits increases during the summer months. The types of injuries that they tend to see are:

  • Water-activity related injuries (pools, lakes/rivers, ocean) – drownings, near-drownings, boating accidents, jet-ski’s and other water craft.

  • Heat related injuries – heat stress, heat stroke; all ages but tend to see more infants & toddlers left unattended inside of vehicles.

  • Fireworks injuries – requires no explanation!

There was some discussion of a relatively new, at least newly published, injury called “dry drowning”. This occurs when a person, typically a child aspirates water (water enters the lungs). The child may appear to be fine generally but could be experiencing some persistent coughing. They may also experience some behavioral changes (probably due to lack of sufficient oxygen uptake inhibited by water in the lungs). Children should be medically evaluated and treated.


The first learning is – to take safety home, and take safety on vacation. Establishing a culture of safety means that we behave safely whenever, wherever we are, even when no one is watching. It also means that we lead by example at work, but also away from work. We can have an impact on the lives of people – their quality of life or even perhaps their very life itself – when an injury or illness was prevented because we acted, we led. We made a difference. We may never know of the suffering that was avoided, the tragedies averted, but we can be confident that we did.

Another learning is – we can be certain that all of the people who will sustain an injury this summer (or any season) did NOT INTEND to be injured. Many won’t even believe that they were taking a risk, or, an unreasonable risk. Yet, when asked after the fact if they would do anything different to avoid the injury we can expect all to answer that they certainly would. Wouldn’t you? Before you and your family go on vacation this summer ask each family member if they intend to get hurt on vacation this summer? The response is predictable. So what will make you and your family different from all of the other people who will get injured this summer, none of which were intended?

So in summary, if given a “do-over”, injured persons would certainly do things differently a second time. The problem is – you can’t “unring that bell”, we don’t get “do-overs”, we only get one chance to do it right the first time, at work or at play. Our intention – our attitude, our thinking has to be more, or different than, just not wanting to get hurt. Our intention has to translate into behavior that follows recognized best practices and rules. We have to follow rules and best practices on vacation? Well, only if you want to avoid the ER.


Let’s take this knowledge then and apply it to our work environments. Our employees come to work each day certainly not intending to be injured but it has occurred too many times this year. If given the chance to have a “do-over” would they take it? Of course. Well, we can’t give “do-overs” but we can try to make people think differently about getting injured and perhaps then, behave differently.

Instead of asking an employee – Will you work safe today? Try asking them – how could you get injured today? They may have to stop and think for a moment – which is a good thing because they may never have thought about it before. You may also want to ask them - why will you be any different than the others who were injured this year? You see, we may have the law of unintended consequences at play when we tell them how safe we are, how safe we intend for them to be which may result in a belief that it can’t or won’t happen to me? Perhaps if we create an image in their minds that it can happen to them, it may create a “do-over” in their minds that following rules and best practices all the time, even when no one is watching, is the way to go.

Let’s have a safe summer at work and at play. Remember, no do-overs allowed.

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