The month of June has been dedicated nationally as “Safety Month”. We are encouraged to take precautions as the summer months kick in and our sense of adventure is heightened. Wear sunscreen! Use bug spray! Watch out for animals on the trails! Contain your fire! All of these things help keep us safe in the general community.
But what about our community at work?
At work we have a developed list of policies and procedures that reduce risk, but it is not the rules put in place that ensures our safety. These things are just tools. They are important and vital tools developed to sustain and create a safety culture, but tools nonetheless. Tools alone do not make a work community safe; the people that are committed to and dedicated to using those tools do.
According to the Sanctuary Organizational Model, when creating a safe community is discussed it is not limited to the physical environment. Sanctuary recognizes that safety is not an easy subject to define, and that there is more to safety than just removing trip hazards and eliminating risks. Sanctuary recognizes that to address safety in a community context, we have to ask ourselves questions regarding four different levels of safety:
• Physical Safety: Is the organization physically safe? How do you contribute to maintaining a safe physical environment?
• Psychological Safety: Are you safe regarding your thoughts and feelings? Do you allow others to feel safe with their thoughts or feelings?
• Moral Safety: Are you able to work in a way that falls in line with your personal beliefs and values? Can you do so while respecting others beliefs and values?
• Social Safety: Do we treat each other with respect and dignity? Do you feel free to express your thoughts and opinions? Are you willing to hear different perspectives?
In order for a community to be safe we all must make the commitment to maintain a safe environment for ourselves, our co-workers, and the families we serve. The burden of responsibility falls on all of us as individuals as well as a group. Some simple ways we create safe environments are getting to know each other to strengthen our relationships so we can know what makes each other “tick”, or just improving our surroundings when we see something that needs improvement. Some of the more difficult tasks we are obligated to pay attention to in order to have a safe community are holding each other accountable and taking responsibility for ourselves when we don’t act in safe ways.
As we move towards Sanctuary certification, we will be provided tools and knowledge to help us create a safer environment for ourselves and the families we serve. But once again, the tools will just be tools. They will only be as useful as the people that choose to use them. And in the meantime maybe ask yourself, “With the knowledge I have; what am I doing to make sure I am providing a physically, psychologically, morally and socially safe environment to my community at work as well as in general?” Because knowledge is the first tool that we are all provided. Use it well.