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

We all engage in activities outside of work that have risks. In our personal lives, it is normal for our risk tolerance to increase; however, with increased risk comes increased probability of injury. A recent National Safety Council (NSC) report revealed that about 70% of all medical case injuries occur off the job, along with about 90% of fatal injuries. 

Nine out of 10 deaths and about 70% of the medically consulted injuries suffered by workers in 2010 occurred off the job. While nearly 14 times the number of deaths occur off the job compared to on the job (13.8 to 1), more than twice as many medically consulted injuries occur off the job (2.7 to 1).

Source: National Safety Council estimates.

I’m reminded of a quote from Albert Einstein:  “There are only two infinites; the universe and human stupidity. I am not all that sure of the former.” 

Evaluate your own recreational activities and the risks involved. Often, in activities outside of work, you’re exposed to much higher risk with much lower personal protection.

For example, consider riding a motorcycle. Would your company consider trading in their work vehicles for these high-power, two-wheeled cycles?  My thoughts go to my activities and risks that are unthinkable on the job. 

What can you do to prevent this kind of personal risk? A safety professional I worked with created a “Stop and Think Card” to help prompt personal risk assessment for both on and off the job activities. This laminated, wallet- sized card asks:

  • What is the scope of what I am about to do?
  • How could this scope change to become more dangerous?
  • What could go wrong?
  • How bad could it be?
  • Do I clearly understand my tasks?
  • Am I physically and mentally prepared?
  • How can I reduce the personal risks to myself and others?

Before I begin my weekly farm chores, I ask myself these questions and then actively work to reduce my personal risks. I try and make it a habit to apply this process to any activity involving personal risk, regardless of the risk level.  By applying this concept, I have a noticeably higher peace of mind about my safety.

Why not consider a similar personal commitment for you and your work organization?

The Doc