I do a lot of health and safety conferences.
I have always enjoyed the public speaking that comes with being Chair of HSE and getting our messages across to our many stakeholders is a key part of my job.
I also get a great deal out of listening to other speakers at the conferences and seminars I attend, and one I heard last week stands out above all of the others I’ve heard – so, Jason Anker, if you’re reading this, I’m talking about you.
We sometimes forget that our 40 year old health and safety at Work Act makes it clear that we are all dutyholders; “It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of him/herself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work…” I was reminded of that when Jason spoke to an assembled audience in Manchester last week about “choosing to be safe”.
Jason was paralysed from the waist down due to an avoidable accident when he fell off a ladder. He was 24 years old at the time. That was in 1993.
Along with everyone in the audience, I was absorbed as Jason told us of his life before the incident and then described the day of the incident in detail. He spoke of the highs and the lows since that day, such as time spent in hospital and rehabilitation, his release from hospital and his struggle with life over the last 22 years and the effect the incident has had on his family and friends.
For more than a decade Jason was angry about what had happened to him, the life he had to get used to and the effect it had on his family.
He admits to still getting angry, but more often than not he channels that anger into his passion to prevent others making the same mistakes he made. What makes Jason’s story so powerful is that he hasn’t become a victim – he recognises that he took a decision to do something unsafe – and lives changed because of a decision he took, a choice he made.
Jason’s presentation is more powerful than any I can ever make and the message is very simple – every single one of us has a choice to make about being safe – or unsafe – at work, and we bear responsibility for the consequences.
I’ve been onto Jason’s website and “liked” his Proud2Besafe campaign.
If you’ve got to this point in my blog go there now and read it for yourself – especially if you haven’t heard Jason speak. I promise you it will make a lasting impression on you – it has on me.