Safety? Take a New Perspective
/ Author: Roger Grootenboer
/ Categories: Local 6, Local 52, Local 53, Newsletters /
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Safety? Take a New Perspective

Sometimes it takes a new perspective from others to learn something. I recently came across an article about bike safety in European cities, where the use of bicycles for everyday transportation is incredibly common.

To avoid collisions of cyclists with vehicle doors, Europeans have devised a safer way to open a vehicle door when parking on busy traffic routes. The advised method for a driver to open a vehicle door from the inside involves using your far hand to cross over your body to reach the door handle. This action necessarily causes your body to turn, allowing for a view of cyclists approaching from behind. The idea is “reach, swivel, look out and back, open slowly.” Doing so can prevent your door from injuring a cyclist.

This method is ingrained in the traffic safety codes of some European countries, is taught at driver training classes and licensing exams, and through public safety campaigns. The technique has been promoted there for 50 years—so much so, that it has become an ingrained habit for many drivers and passengers.

The technique is just starting to gain momentum in Canada. Some cities have started to introduce fines for “dooring” a cyclist, but until people are in the habit of looking before opening, accidents will continue to happen.

This prompted some further thinking about safety in our Canadian workplaces. We can read the safety policies in our workplaces and try to follow them, but to truly ingrain them into our workplace routines and make them a habit, we need to take a bit of extra effort to really understand the importance of workplace safety rules.

•       Make sure you understand the rules and policies. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Follow the rules. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts.

•       If you notice an unsafe practice in your workplace, bring it forward to the appropriate individuals, which may include the Health and Safety committee. If possible, make a positive suggestion about how to improve the practice.

•       If you witness or are involved in a near-miss incident, you must report it. Doing so may prevent a future workplace injury.

•       Ask how you can get involved in Health and Safety at your workplace.

Let’s make safety a habit to ensure that not only do we follow workplace health and safety rules, but that we also look out for the safety of each other.

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