June brings us National Safety Month, and with it a reminder to focus on safety issues whether they are at home, on the roads, out in nature, or in the workplace. Safety risks are present in every environment and all of us are tasked with maintaining our personal safety as well as the safety of the people around us.
At AK Child & Family, our safety priorities mainly encompass three key elements: youth safety, visitor safety, and employee safety. It is the job of every one of us to make sure that the people who are here to receive care, or to provide care, are exposed to a culture that identifies and communicates safety risks openly, as they occur and without blame.
But how do we know if our organization promotes a culture of safety? One way to assess the safety of our organization is to ask ourselves some questions:
- Would I feel safe if I was receiving treatment here?
- Would I feel that my child was safe if he/she was receiving treatment here?
- Do I know what to do if I am faced with a safety issue, be it a physical hazard or otherwise related to student / staff / visitor safety?
If you answered no to any of those questions, you may have information that needs to be communicated. Timely and meaningful feedback regarding safety concerns is the first step towards creating a culture that values safety. The results of prompt and direct communication of risks can mean the difference between the prevention of harm and allowing the harm to take place.
One of the most common factors that undermine safety and quality in a workplace is the deferral of responsibility. The belief that “someone else will take care of that” or “that’s not my job” can lead to injury and harm. It is important to remember that safety is EVERYONE’S responsibility. In order to improve safety and quality, we must first acknowledge that we all play a role in how we manage ourselves and our surroundings. If safety is valued as a priority by everyone, then the culture of safety will follow.
So, if you see something that would impact the safety of the youth in our care, your co-workers, a visitor, or you, don’t ignore it! If you can safely mitigate the risk, do so and let a supervisor know what you did. In all cases, report the safety hazard. If you don’t know who report to or how to report, ask someone. Don’t assume someone else has taken care of the problem, as we are all in this together!
Even agencies with perfect safety records have opportunities for further progress and improvement. We are no different. Through communication and shared responsibility we can ensure that all who step though our doors will be free of harm and ready to access or provide quality care.