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Safety T
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PostSubject: Distance Theory   Sat Oct 10, 2009 7:26 am

Hello.

I am not a student of physiology and probably never will be. Not that I donít find this subject interesting, I also believe physiology plays a bigger role in peoples lives both personally and professionally than most people are aware of. Itís just that I have a chosen profession already. Occupational health and safety.

I have only been involved in safety for the last four years, prior to this I was a rigger for many years. In my sort time in safety I have noticed how important a role physiology plays. It is for this reason I have entered your forum, Iím hoping you can help me understand the nature of a subject I like to call ďthe distance theoryĒ.

Communication is key to my profession as Iím sure it is in yours. I am always trying to find new ways to communicate with the workforce on many different levels. This comes in many forms from verbal (which has many sub levels), written, signs and posters and finally actions. No matter how I communicate, the message is only pertinent for a limited time. This varies from individual to individual but ultimately it is forgotten. What Iím talking about is not the subject itself but the message within the subject.

As an example, people by their very nature take chances, in occupational health and safety people do this all too frequently. There are some very good DVDs on this subject which are used to bring home the message to employees the danger of doing so. For instance there is one film which show how a person has lost the use of his legs after falling from height, this accident could have been prevented if this person was using his safety harness (which he was wearing) but did not attach it as the job was only going to take a minute or two.

After watching this film, usually a good conversation is followed with a lot of input from the viewers. This is what I call an open safety dialogue, encouraging the viewers to contribute their thoughts. My aim is to hopefully increase safety awareness.

Unfortunately I have observed these same people less than one week later performing in a manner almost identical to the person in the film. When questioned about this they even use the same argument, ďit was just for a couple of seconds or minutesĒ. After discussing this further, I realise there perception is that it wonít happen to me.

This is what I have termed the Distance Theory. Something we are all guilty of on one level or another. Basically we are all aware that these accidents can occur but for some reason I do not understand we distance ourselves from it. Believing it is something that wonít happen to us. I am hoping you can shed some light on this, help me to understand what it is about human nature that creates this distance. I intend to hold a safety meeting on this very subject and would like to find a way to communicate it.

Any thoughts or theories you have on this would be gratefully appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.

Trevor.
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