Safety Education Can Save Lives and Enrich Childhood
Are today’s children adequately equipped to face the world of work? Teaching safety principles at a young age can bring a range of benefits.
We have all heard it, and many of us have said it. Kids today are not allowed to be kids. Back in the old days, they could go out and play in the woods all day and you wouldn’t see them till nightfall. Nowadays, we just wrap them in cotton wool.
Accurate social commentary, gross misconception or an inevitable consequence of the 21st century world? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle, but there is a growing view that instead of complaining and harping back to days gone by, we should be doing more to equip our children to understand how to keep themselves safe.
This does not just apply to childhood safety, but might save lives when today’s children become tomorrow’s workforce. Could a good grounding in assessing risks, being aware of hazards and understanding health and safety signs really make such a difference? Let’s find out.
UK workplace fatalities
Over the past year, there were 137 workplace fatalities in the UK. To put that into context, Canada experienced more than 800 during the same period, despite having half the population size. It is indisputable that the UK is a global leader in health and safety. However, there are lessons to be learned and that figure of 137 could so easily be lower.
HSE statistics show that a disproportionately high proportion of those fatalities were among the self-employed. What can we glean from this? To find the answer, think about what happens on the first day of a new job, whether it is in an office, on a building site or in a manufacturing plant.
The health and safety training session is as ubiquitous a rite of passage as being introduced to your workmates of given the direction to the rest rooms. For some jobs, it might take just 15 minutes, while on others it could run for several days.
We might sometimes feel that it is an exercise in explaining the obvious, but the implications are staring us in the face – self employed workers who do not go through basic health and safety training are twice as likely to die at work.
Educating in Health and Safety
There are a range of government measures that encourage schools to focus on risk and safety in education, and aspects of safety feature in a number of statutory subjects, including design and technology, science and physical education. But does teaching kids to put on a lab coat and to have spotters in place during trampoline sessions go far enough?
In 2015, a Parliamentary Inquiry concluded that Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) should be statutory, and must include education in risk and safety.
The point is that not only can a solid education in risk awareness save lives in later life, it can also bring immediate benefits during childhood. If we are serious about wanting our children to be more independent and to be able to have summer holiday adventures without adults standing over them, then surely, we need to provide them with the tools to understand risk and manage their own safety.