Safely Enjoy The Holidays
I'd like to be a little more somber this month by reminding you to be extra careful during this holiday season. Why? Well, with all the excitement and activities that go along with the holidays there's a documented increase in accidents and injuries. People falling off ladders while putting up christmas decorations and shoveling snow off roofs. Kids getting injured riding unfamiliar new bikes and skateboards received as presents. Dinner hosts cutting themselves while preparing dinner or carving the turkey or ham. People fracturing bones slipping on snow and ice. Car accidents due to adverse driving conditions or other distractions. And the list goes on.
Something to keep in mind is that accidents don't always just affect the person involved. They almost always impact families, friends, coworkers, and others in our lives. This is especially true for severe and disabling injuries or even death. Something else to keep in mind is that accidents occur more frequently under two scenarios: 1) Tasks we've never done before and are unfamiliar with; and, 2) Tasks we've done a thousand times before and never got hurt so we push the boundaries of safely doing them by taking shortcuts or not paying attention to what we're doing.
So what can we do to be more aware of hazards so as to prevent injuries?
While I worked for a global mining company I learned a process that I still use today in retirement. It's a process that helps increase our awareness to avoid the potential for an accident. It helps us to consciously think through tasks to identify and control the hazards by finding a better, safer way to do something. The process I'm referring to is called T.R.A.C.K., which stands for:
Think through the Task
Recognize the hazards
Assess the risks
Control the hazards
Keep safety first in all tasks
By running through the TRACK process -- even for the seemingly simply tasks -- it can help us identify and eliminate the hazards before we start the job.
An example of applying TRACK might be walking on snow and ice in winter as described below:
Thinking through the task I know I'm going to walk along a path I choose to get from point A to B.
I recognize that I could slip and fall on the ice and injure myself.
While assessing the risks I might decide I can take a different path that's free of snow and ice even if it's a little further to walk.
If I must walk across the snow and ice I can control the hazards by walking like a penguin to avoid my feet from going out from underneath me. I can also keep my hands out of my pockets so if I do fall and can catch myself. I also know if the path I've chosen involves steps or stairs I can use the handrails to steady myself and even brace myself if I do fall. If the snow and ice is on my driveway I know can remove it to eliminate the hazard.
I can help keep others safe by warning others of the hazard and suggesting they use an alternate path or at the very least exercise caution.
So, please enjoy the holidays and your time with family and friends. But, remember to use TRACK to help keep yourselves and others accident-free.
Next Newsletter Edition
Starting in the new year with a January/February edition I'll publish the newsletters every other month rather than monthly. That way I can devote the time it deserves so as to produce a quality and informative newsletter. Given the average newsletter takes me between 16-24 hours to produce I find I'm sometimes pushed for time each month as the deadline approaches or even expires.
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Photography Credits: All photographs featured in this newsletter were taken by John F. Wright.