Most of us make regular visits to the doctor for check-ups or to help improve our health. In those visits, the doctor first takes our temperature, weight, blood pressure and checks our heart. It is important the doctor test these vital signs of our health for any signs of danger.
When it comes to our personal health and safety in the workplace, we must take similar precautions to assess the potential for hazards and look for signs of danger. Our ability to perform work safely is entirely dependent upon our safety IQ, that is our ability to recognize and prevent danger.
Smart decisions begin with safety and safety begins with smart decisions, making the pre-job hazard assessment a key component of an injury-free workday. When quality work is completed safely and injury-free, employees and employers can take great pride in what they do.
Regardless the task, you must become skilled at recognizing the risks, then thinking and acting appropriately to avoid injury. While injury reduction or avoidance can be taught with proper training and experience, no amount of training or experience can protect you from injury if your safety IQ is poor or non-existent.
Unless you prefer to learn safety “the hard way”, here are 5 things you can do immediately to test your safety IQ and raise it if it is not where you want it to be:
- Recognize that accidents don’t just happen to “the other guy”. If you believe accidents only happen to “the other guy”, remember to someone else, YOU are “the other guy””. Raise your safety IQ by anticipating the unfortunate accident and reducing the risks before an accident can occur. This includes using machine guards and PPE, maintain good housekeeping and so much more.
- Replace your “git ‘er done” attitude with a “get it done safely” one. If you rush into or through a task, you could inadvertently overlook a potential hazard, miss a critical safety step or skip a crucial safe work practice. Raise your safety IQ by taking a focused and methodical approach to your work. By not rushing, you allow yourself the ability to recognize when a hazardous situation has developed during the course of your task, thus providing the opportunity to protect yourself from injury or illness.
- Whether you consider yourself a numbers person or not, you should also think about safety statistically. Consider the probability that you will be injured when taking a shortcut or performing unsafe work. If statistics suggest for every 100 times the task is performed, 1 injury will occur, you must ask yourself whether you are comfortable taking the risk. How do you know when the injury will occur? Will it be the 1st, 50th or 100th time you perform the task? Is the risk really worth it? Raise your safety IQ by accepting the idea that odds are, an injury is immanent if you perform the task often or long enough and take the proper measure to ensure that you have mitigated the potential hazard or have properly protected yourself from the inevitable.
- Most of us learn safety and safe work practices through formal safety training and hands-on-training. When given an opportunity to learn and practice safety, take it seriously. Safe work practices are not designed to inconvenience you or slow down your work, they are designed to help you avoid injury and illness. Raise your safety IQ by engaging in safety training and practicing what you learn. When you embrace safe work practices, those practices easily become ingrained in your daily routine, making safety a part of your life, not just your work.
- Develop strong safety habits, taking responsibility for your safety and the safety of others. Good habits are contagious and you can be a catalyst in creating a strong safety culture in your workplace. Setting an example and sharing first-hand accounts of how thinking and acting safely has benefitted you, can be a powerful influence on the rest of the workforce. Raise your safety IQ by becoming a role model for safety. If you can teach it, then by most accounts you’ve mastered it. Being a champion of safety, training others in safe work practicings or simply helping correct the unsafe behaviors of others is probably the ultimate way to raise your own safety IQ.
Take the safety quiz below to test your safety IQ.
To test your safety IQ, select the answer to each question below which best represents your most frequent response or attitude toward safety.
A. I focus on safety at:
- Public places
- All of the above
B. I speak up when others are not working safely:
- Never, they should know better
- Sometimes, it just depends . . .
- Only if I’m comfortable doing so
- Always! Safety 1st!
C. I practice good safety habits at work when:
- The boss is nearby
- A task is dangerous or risky
- I am performing a new task
- Always! Safety 1st
D. If being honest, I can admit to taking risks with safety when:
- Performing tasks or working with tools with which I am very familiar
- I’m in a hurry to begin or complete a task
- Doing odd jobs around the house
- The risk of severe injury is low
E. How comfortable are you with identifying safety hazards in the workplace?
- Not comfortable at all, I need lots of training
- Somewhat comfortable, but more training would help
- Comfortable, but open to learning more
- Very comfortable, ready to train others!
Ultimately, working safe is a decision you make, often not just once, but many, many times each day. It is a decision that could impact your life or the quality of your life. Be sure your have the knowledge and training to make good decisions about safety. Raise your safety IQ starting today for a positive impact on your safety for tomorrow.
Scoring: Add up the numbers associated with your answers, then find your safety IQ message below:
- 20-16 points – You really put Safety 1st ! Keep up the good work!
- 15-11 points – You are on the right track, keep up the good work!
- 10-7 points – Your safety IQ needs a boost and you could be taking unnecessary risks.
- Below 7 points – Your safety IQ indicates you may be working unsafely. You should seek more training and education on safe work practices.