Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Safety: It's Not All About You

Posted by Tanya Conole on Tue, Aug 29, 2017

Car at night.jpgWhat if I told you that safety wasn’t about you? That the ‘safety starts with you’ mantra no longer applies? What would you think? How would you act? Could this even be true?

The other night I was travelling home from our Pittsburgh locations, I turned a corner and there was a car. In my lane. Now, I am an Australian and we drive on the left hand side of the road (where they were), but even I knew that this wasn’t right. No. This person was in my lane. Coming to me. Steering towards me. Our vehicles destined to collide head on.

Fortunately I had undertaken defensive driver training, it kicked in, and I responded accordingly.

Fortunately I had the presence of mind to be aware of my surroundings and I acted accordingly.

Fortunately I was at that place at that time and not moments before - or after - and I reacted accordingly.

I cannot tell you that their car made contact with mine as there were many scratches on the driver’s side rear panel already that I wouldn’t know if one was added, but I can tell you that as I sat there in situ as they passed me, my car moved.

I cannot tell you that our vehicles made contact, but I can tell you that it was either that or there was enough compressed air between their car and mine that made my car shake. It made me shake! And it made me question what just happened.

My conclusion? That safety isn’t about me.

Why? Because that night safety was about someone else: Their choices, their actions … everything I couldn’t control.

I am a certified health and safety professional and I am telling you that in that moment safety was not about me, that I was helpless to effect change on the owner of an unsafe act or condition!

Well, if safety isn’t about me - or you - what is safety about then?

It is about existing in a world where you can have little control over the last step before something bad happens.

It is about predicting and protecting yourself against things which you can have little to no control over.

It is about being able to respond to those unsafe acts and conditions, those precursors to unwanted events, those last “what the?’ moments that can happen.

Now, when you pick up a coin you pick up both sides right? That means that yours is also that choice, that action, that decision that may affect someone else.

That means that yours is the last step before something bad may happen to someone else.

That means that yours is the unsafe acts and conditions that someone else may have to respond to like I did.

Ok. So maybe safety is a little about you. Perhaps safety does start with you. After all you make choices about your own actions and behavior, right? You choose whether or not to be informed, present, mindful, and aware of your actions, don’t you?

Please. Please choose safety. The person on the other side of the coin is depending upon you.

Specialty Technical Publishers (STP) provides a variety of single-law and multi-law services, intended to facilitate clients’ understanding of and compliance with health and safety requirements. These include:

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About the Author

A winner of the America’s ‘green card lottery’, Tanya moved to the US from Australia with only a permanent resident visa in her passport and three suitcases in hand to further her OHS career and continue her journey through life.

Presently working for Valvoline as their Global EHS Internal Audit Lead, Tanya enjoys guiding others to build a sustainably safe working environment in a fit-for-purpose manner.

Tanya’s skills and experience can be viewed at

photo credit: Arthur Pontes _MG_2752_1 via photopin (license)

Tags: Health & Safety, Training, Transportation