26 Nov You’re never off-duty from safety
I’ve just returned from a week climbing steep limestone crags in the hills above Antalya, Turkey. An opportunity to relax and not think about work for a whole week you might think.
Don’t worry; I’m not going to go on about my climbing exploits or even make reference to my dynamic risk assessments of routes and balancing risk with my desire to push myself to my limits. Oops, sorry – too late!
In Turkey I stayed in a small complex with camping, bungalows, chalets and a guest house with a central communal building containing the essentials: bar, restaurant and seating areas both inside and out.
There was a large fire pit and as far as I could tell, all heating and cooking was fuelled by a huge pile of wood nearby. The place is very well set-up, run by a German climber and staffed predominantly by young climbers, who got their food and accommodation in exchange for working every other day.
So perhaps you can imagine the approach to safety from many of these staff.
One day I spotted a talented young Danish climber (with whom I had been climbing the previous day) firing up a chainsaw to start tackling the wood pile. He had no protective equipment and I was concerned that he wasn’t fully aware of the potential dangers.
I caught his attention and approached him to talk about the safety of his task. As expected he was quick to dismiss my concerns until I asked him what impact he thought an injury might have on his climbing abilities. His mindset visibly changed as he recognised for himself the potential damage he could do.
Later, I had a follow-up discussion with the German owner of the complex. Once again, the response was very positive and I got an assurance that he’d take a number of appropriate steps to keep his team safe.
The issue with a job like ours is that safety’s not just something we do at work. It’s based on our own values, beliefs and a passion for what’s right: preventing the pain and suffering involved in workplace injuries.
As a result we cannot put safety to one side when we’re at home, on holiday or just out and about.
Have you faced similar situations when off-duty? And what response did you get?