Safety is a word that is spoken very often by many people, but not everyone truly understands what it is all about. Others have the theoretical definition, but lack the practical expression of it.
It has been defined in different terms:
- As the condition of being protected from or likely cause of danger, risk, or injury.
- The condition of being safe.
- Defined as a state of being protected against physical, psychological, occupational, mechanical failure, damage, accident, death, injury, or such highly undesirable events.
- Doing something in a way to prevent accident and injury.
- A device that helps protect you against injury.
- A safe place where you are protected from danger.
I can go on and on.
I thought I understood what it means until I read an article by Dave Collins of Safetyrisk.
I have come to discover that safety is dynamic; safety means different things to different people. It changes based on place, scenario, condition, situation and targets.
Though all the definitions above are corrects; more definitions not captured in this article will still be correct definitely, but you need to understand what safety means to you based on your own context.
It could be:
- An act – What you do; a safe act
- A condition – Safe working condition; like preventing musculoskeletal disorders.
- A situation – Managing communal unrest to protect the workers.
- A feeling – Having a safe disposition because of what you see and believe.
- A barrier – Like your personal protective equipment
- A place – A safe place in case of emergency, like your muster point.
- A person, etc – Someone saddled with the responsibility of managing it in the workplace.
Among all these, which of it best suit your present position/situation; that’s what it actually means to you at that present state.
It may not necessarily be what you do – Example, I followed all the safety precautions.
It may not necessarily be what you get – Example, my organization provided all necessary PPE, supervision and training to make the activity safe.
In your context, it may just be what you feel.
So when next you talk about safety, personalize it. It means different things to different people, at different point and under different circumstances.
The word safety is could also used in association with different words to modify or specify its meaning, example:
- OHS: Occupational Health and safety is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety, health, and welfare of people at work.
- Industrial Safety: This involves the management of health and safety in an industry. The industry could be construction, mining, oil and gas, aviation, manufacturing.
- Environmental Health and Safety (EHS): It is a discipline and specialty that studies and implements practical aspects of environmental protection at work. In simple terms it is what organizations must do to make sure that their activities do not cause harm to anyone.
- Workplace Safety: Explains the collective plans, procedures, and action adopted to prevent or control the hazards present in the workplace.