Updated: Dec 11, 2019
For many years in my career I fought the system, detested the paperwork and seeming ‘waste of time’ attending to this subject matter of WHS. For the most part it always felt like a doctrine or rule and though the intent of the subject has merit, the purpose always felt like it had an ulterior motive.
Perhaps what underlay my questioning of many of the procedures and protocols prescribed was that I could sense that many a time they held no truth to supporting the true well-being of the people concerned. They were rather a cover story to defend the writers of the policy, and quite possibly legitimately so.
In my early career I often felt as though I was ‘bulletproof’ – perhaps ignorant of the potential harm around me on a construction site, yet I was very aware of how heightened my senses were and alert to my surroundings I was.
Roll on a few years and I now reflect on how familiarity breeds complacency, no longer were my senses on full alert and though wiser to the risks I was no doubt less equipped than before to be fully aware of my surroundings.
Familiarity also allows a degree of arrogance to creep in, so short cuts to the prescribed systems were commonplace.
I see this all far more clearly now as I observe all the choices that many others around me make while they work on a construction site – mostly in line with how I behaved previously and I have realised that perhaps Workplace Health and Safety has nothing to do with the paperwork and protocols – but everything to do with the moment to moment choices we make in our lives, both in and outside of work hours.
It was not until I took stock of recognising the truth of the amazing being that I am, that I began to put into place measures that confirm that I am worth taking care of – no longer is wearing a pair of gloves a curse – in fact, by knowing my worth I actively make the choice to now wear protective apparel while working in my own garage or garden – I Am Worth It.
When I attend a site I have an interest now to pay attention to the safety notices and instructions displayed and I make sure that I am connected with myself such that my senses are free to communicate with me. The best way I hold this connection is to feel my feet while I walk, or feel the quality of the touch of my fingertips as I hold an instrument, tool or handrail.
With awareness of who I am and an awareness through my body of my surroundings I am naturally attuned to any potential harm that may arise – and if I trip over something in my path or bash a finger while working, then I know I have lost connection with my body and surroundings and that these are an early warning sign to snap out of the disregard I’ve slipped into and can make the choice to come back to being aware of me.
In all of this I now understand that what I was in reaction to with Workplace Health and Safety was the lack of awareness in the policy writers of who they are and the qualities they live in their everyday lives. In other words, a safety manager that preaches the prescribed rules, yet does not live or act in a manner that reflects his own choices of self-care is evidently felt by us all, hence the lack of attention or regard shown by those in his audience.
But the truth is we cannot hold anyone else to account, for it is our own choices that either prevent or lead us to wanting to know who we are and why we’re worth being taken care of by ourselves and others alike.
All the policy writing in the world will not ‘protect’ us (from ourselves) until we all address the root cause of its need to be there in the first place and once this is realised, the need for intervention will naturally fall away.
Over to Us All…