Making Safety Personal: A Gym Owner's Lesson

Making Safety Personal: A Gym Owner's Lesson

Last week while working out at my neighborhood, franchised fitness facility, I noticed Dale, the owner/manager, talking intently to one of the other members. After a moment, Dale walked the member over to the nearby AED mounted on the wall. I had noticed the AED there—although it was tucked in a dark corner—since I’d joined the gym a couple years ago, so I knew it wasn’t new. Gesturing and conversation continued out of my earshot, but when they finished, curiosity and my safety gene kicked in. I had to ask Dale what was up.

He proceeded to tell me that just before the holidays he went through an annual renewal of his CPR and AED certification, “for about the sixth time.” He’s owned the franchise for about the same amount of time, and the AED has been in the gym the entire period. He told me it finally dawned on him that he had never talked with any of his members about it. 

“January is New Year’s resolution time, and it’s when I sign up lots of new members. I just decided to add the AED discussion to my club orientation. I figured there are quite a few people who have been trained, and I want to know who they are and make sure they know it’s here. I also need to talk with my old regulars like you about it, too.”

Since Dale could bench press me about 20 times without breaking a sweat, I decided to let the “old” reference pass and asked him if he’d ever had to use an AED or had anyone he knew used one.

“Nope, thank God. I know I could if I had to, though. But this place is open 24 hours, and I can’t be here all the time. And I know the risk is there. I know a lot of people in here must be certified and trained on these. What good is it to have a life-saving piece of equipment if no one uses it? Besides,” he laughed, “I need all of you guys around to keep paying your dues.”

But then he paused.

“Seriously, I would never forgive myself if one of you died here from a heart attack and someone who could’ve helped didn’t know or remember the AED was here.”   

At DEKRA Insight, we consult daily about the role of leaders in creating a committed safety culture. We also teach the way the human brain processes and “sees” (or doesn’t see) new information versus the familiar and routine, and how that impacts worker behavior and safety. Without realizing it, Dale was modeling several aspects of an effective frontline safety leader:

  • He identified a very personal and powerful safety ethic and motivation
  • He looked at his workplace with fresh eyes and identified both an exposure and a way to reduce it
  • He personally engaged with each person to check for training/certification and ensure they knew about the exposure reduction tool and how to use it

The next time you enter your work area, try to look around with “fresh eyes.” Don’t assume your workers “see” the exposures or recognize and remember how to use the reduction tools. Engage personally to ensure understanding. Resolve to be safety fit in 2016!

Scott Stricoff, A Legacy in Safety at Work
Is Your Process Safety Knowledge Valid?

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Sunday, 17 February 2019