More than just a toe

by David Prentice on April 28, 2013

When I was first married many years ago, I found myself having to mow my own lawn. Not having a whole lot of experience with lawn mowers, one day I accidentally set my foot just under the mower deck and yanked on the starter. Fortunately, I only shaved off the top of my shoe.

As I got older and had children, I became more aware of the dangers of unsafe practises around the home. Lawn mowers, kids and water, hot stoves, skill saws—our home is a place where safety plays out every day.

The public arena is another. Driving, icy sidewalks, mall escalators—they all present risk. Adding to that risk are things that detract and distract, such as not getting enough sleep, stress, and smartphones.

I’ve heard that some European countries such as the Netherlands and Sweden do better on the safety front because they have a more ingrained safety culture. (See, for example, for more information.) Safety is taught early in schools and homes. This safety culture has obvious benefits for the workplace, too. As children in these countries mature, they are already steeped in thinking about safety.

Now, I don’t think for a moment that the Netherlands and Sweden have created some kind of safety utopia or have zero safety incidents, but I do think their more public, proactive approach helps. Nowadays, fewer people are brought up exposed to an environment of tools and machinery. Fewer come from the farm. Fewer live in homes where the grass needs to be cut or where household tools are used. The result is a growing safety awareness deficit.

We need to develop our own safety culture by taking the time to think and talk about safe practises, whether in our home, out in public, and especially in the workplace. One unsafe act can cost more than just a toe. The devastating effects can last a lifetime, whether through debilitating injury or loss of a loved one.

Watch CLAC’s documentary on the tragic impact of workplace accidents at

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