Safety Matters – Know Your Environment
In this series as captioned above, I want us to discuss our environment. It is extremely important to know your environment in order to ensure your personal safety and the safety of those around you.
Your environment can be your house, inside your car, inside a plane, your office, the street, school, hospital. Generally speaking, it refers to wherever you find yourself at a given time. It does not have to necessarily be enclosure.
Apart from your house and perhaps your car which are considered your most immediate environments and which you’re very familiar with, you need to be given orientation on those other environments that are a bit remote to you.
Let’s look at a few examples: when you board a flight, a flight attendant would explain to you all the safety measures you need to take during an emergency. For instance he would show you all the exit points on the flight, emphasising that you must use the nearest one during an emergency. When you work in an office setting, your employer owes it a duty to conduct you around your new environment. This is called induction or orientation. During this program, you would be taken around the building or the facility and be shown the various departments, location of the washroom, emergency alarms, exit points, assembly points, sprinklers, smoke detectors, etc. This is meant to acquaint you with your new environment so that in case of an emergency, you won’t be found wanting. If your new employer has not done this, you may want to find out as to why.
When new students are admitted, they first undergo orientation programmes to help them familiarize themselves with the school environment. I recall very well how a guy, who reported late way back in college, ended up in the ladies’ washroom. It was quite an embarrassment for him.
It is not for any reason that there are tour guides at our tourist sites. They are the first point of call when you arrive at the facility. They give you a short talk about the environment. And they accompany you around the facility.
This practice is not limited to tourist sites. When students go on excursion or individuals visit some manufacturing plants that are into hazardous activities, there is an HSE person who would take them through a short talk. This briefing is to help acquaint them with the environment before they embark on their tour.
This is the standard that must be applied at all times. So when next you board a long bus, look for the nearest exit point on the bus.
When you know your environment well enough, there are chances that you can easily manoeuvre your way around your facility in case of an emergency.
So you see how important knowing your environment is to your personal safety. Let me emphasize again, knowing your environment at any given time accrues to your personal safety. Remember; don’t underestimate anything however insignificant it may appear to you.