Originally posted on Caterpillar Safety Service’s Safety Culture WORLD blog http://safetycultureworld.blogspot.com/and reposted here with Caterpillar’s permission.

Employees are exposed to different levels of personal safety risk in every workplace setting. One of the most influential ways to reduce personal risk tolerance is learning from individuals who have experienced safety-related tragedies first-hand. Often, an impactful story can heighten awareness and decrease risk tolerance.violence

While working with a mining company in South Africa, I received extensive training on the organization’s 11 Fatal Risk Protocols (FRP).  This list was composed of 11 work conditions and operations that had time and again led to fatalities.

 As a part of this training, the safety director, Mohlaba, described his father’s death, which was a result of one of the FRPs.  As I entered the underground mines, I remembered his personal story and found myself paying close attention to the potential risks posed by my surroundings.

Because of Mohlaba’s decision to share his personal experience, my personal risk awareness had heightened. In retrospect, all 11 Fatal Risk Protocols were developed as a result of similar tragic stories.  

At one point in my career, I was operations director at an explosives manufacturing facility. On separate occasions, I was approached by different employees that voluntarily shared a personal, safety-related tragedy. Their intent was not to shock me, but rather to bring attention to the dangers associated with a process and ultimately increase my awareness to the safety risks.

Each year in the United States, there are approximately 5,000 industrial work-related deaths, 50,000 vehicle-related deaths, and  60,000 off-the-job, non-vehicular related deaths.  The number of medical cases for similar events is far larger.

 Each of these incidents has personal stories that can effectively reduce our risk tolerance and the risk tolerance of others.  No matter where you live or work, developing a practice of regularly sharing safety event history can help you and your organization reduce injuries on and off the job.  Why not give this a try?