A recent posting on LinkedIn reminded me about the Safety Week taking place in the United Kingdom during June; this has me thinking is a “Safety Week” a good thing or not?
My initial thoughts are that every week should be a safety week… indeed every day should be one, so why do Safety Professionals think that to have a dedicated week, once a year, could make any difference whatsoever?
In the “emerging economy” where I work the Safety week is usually held in January and it is a week of frantic activity from picture and slogan competitions to putting on displays of safety related equipment and speeches by well-meaning senior site managers about the virtues of working safely. (Sadly at one contractor this event in 2014 was cancelled half way through the week due to a fatality on one of its sites). That be it as it may, who actually measures the effect of these “Safety Week” events?
If the objective is to increase awareness of Safety why is it only once a year… why not every month or, if we are worried about diluting the message, every quarter?
I have searched in an attempt to find any statistical reports on the improvement, or otherwise, of safety after these “Safety Week” events but all I got from the internet were titles of other safety weeks. For instance did you know about the “Child Safety Week”? What about the “Electrical Fire Safety Week” or the “Gas Safety Week”? The list seems endless and while they announce them with great vigour no one ever informs you of any ensuing results or benefits!
Note – I think this is beginning to look along the lines of my previous blog on Why I don’t believe in Safety First
As Safety Professionals we are sometimes seen as being in existence for our own sakes… and I can see why we might often be seen and ridiculed when we invent a particular “Safety Week” extolling the benefits of safety; spreading the “gospel” according to the Health and Safety Act but we seem not to be following through and providing any proof of their worth…
Safety is not a religion, we cannot expect managers and CEOs to accept on blind faith that our efforts will result in safety benefits!
So until I see the statistics on accident reduction or increased lasting awareness I am afraid I will play along with your “Safety Week” activities but I will remain unconvinced of their benefit and put them into the category of symbolism just like in the photo.