Take Care?

Our consultants travel around the country and as you would imagine often spot safety issues that make them pause for thought. Here is how Richard Davison was inspired by a recent train journey:

Shortly after getting off a train, and becoming part of the jostling throng full of sharp elbowed commuters, each trying to reach the ticket barrier first, something caught my eye. It made me stop, and think; although perhaps not for the reasons intended.

Across the risers of the staircase leading up from the platform were signs reading, “PLEASE TAKE CARE ON THE STAIRS”.

The sentiment in this sign is perfect; we want people to take more care, so there’s less risk of them getting hurt. But if good intentions were all we needed to avoid injury, businesses would be ticking off injury-free periods with no effort whatsoever.

I don’t think a sign like this, or simply telling people to, “take more care in future” after a spate of slips or cuts in a workplace, is effective. It’s too vague and doesn’t actually provide any tangible instructions. They’ll appreciate the principle, then carry on as normal.

Combining a caring approach with some imagination and attention to detail might have some influence. So, if you do, genuinely, want people to take more care, take the time to:

  • Help them understand why we want them to take care in the first place; it will generate a desire to do something to avoid harm.
  • Be specific about how we want them to take care; provide a clear, unambiguous instruction. It’s not patronising, it’s helpful.
  • Re-inforce the safe behaviours you’re encouraging, with a “Thank You” or a “Well Done”. Everyone likes the occasional pat on the back – and are more likely to develop better habits if they get one.

So what should it have said on the steps? Perhaps:

  • 14 people fell here last month.
  • Take one step at a time.
  • Look; don’t text.
  • Thank you!

This information is a little more engaging isn’t it? Perhaps it would grab more people’s attention – and a few might even do something differently.

Oh – by the way – yes, I did put my phone away before I climbed the stairs and I managed to get to the top in one piece!



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