Around Thanksgiving, we like to think about what we’re grateful for. Actually, it’s something to think about all year round, but this time of year tends to bring gratitude into focus.
Origin of Thanksgiving
When the Pilgrims came over the ocean, they didn’t find the land very hospitable for them. It didn’t have the same type of soil as they had at home, didn’t have herds of goats and sheep ready to hand, and different vegetation than they were used to.
Fortunately for them, the Native Americans kept them safe. Showed them what was edible in the new land, what kind of game could be hunted, what could be used from the land for clothing. For all this the Pilgrims were grateful.
It takes a village
Keeping each other safe is pretty basic to human survival! Whether it’s across the ocean from home, or inside your own home. No one person can keep another safe, but we all share the responsibility.
Parents teach their kids to be safe, but other parents (and often older children) fulfill this role too. Teachers show them how to be safe, and playgrounds and schools have rules for basic safety as well.
Once we’re older and at work, it’s the company’s responsibility to keep people safe. Obviously different workplaces have different degrees and kinds of risk. Repetitive stress injuries are found throughout the workforce, no matter where the workers are located.
An office worker is less likely to strain their back from bending over all day, or from lifting heavy boxes for eight hours straight. Or from inhaling the fumes from hazardous chemicals. But they are more likely to end up with carpal tunnel syndrome, or back strain and hip damage from sitting all day.
The safety manager for most office workers is the ergonomics professional. They adjust the computer and desk height appropriately, and recommend a different chair or different mouse to avoid some of these repetitive injuries.
Workers in retail or warehouses are more likely to have an actual safety manager. The title may be an Environmental, Health and Safety Manager or something similar. They develop safety manuals, processes, and trainings to keep their workers safe. Away from harmful fumes, lifting appropriately, avoiding the pathway for the forklifts.
What happens at the job doesn’t have to stay at the job
Even people with no background in safety can take the education they learn at work back home with them. When lifting heavy items at home, they can use their legs instead of their backs. Or lift the surfaces where they do their crafts to avoid bending over.
Buying a mouse for the home computer that helps prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Using a chair in the home office that allows them to put their feet flat on the floor and look at the screen without a crick in their neck.
Lying down or standing instead of sitting when watching TV. Getting up and moving periodically. Taking the family for a walk after dinner.
There are a lot of reasons to be grateful! Now or at any time of the year. One of them is that we’re safe.
While it’s pretty obvious we shouldn’t touch a hot stove, some of the dangers in the workplace aren’t as obvious. Or the solution may not be as obvious.
So today, we’re grateful for the scientists and researchers who find out how we get harmed on the job, and ways to prevent those injuries. And for the safety professionals, who are dedicated to keeping their workers and family and friends safe.