Safety Symbiosis – Taking Process Safety from Work to Home Environments

Steve Hawkins

A typical response to the terms Process Safety or Emergency Response differs from professionals at work versus those at home. Why is that? Is safety at the workplace, such as a semiconductor plant, more important than the safety of that same individual or individual’s families at home or in social settings? History has shown us that catastrophic accidents, many with significant loss of life far greater than industrial incidents, often happen in public settings. If one embraces safety at the workplace in its true essence, the influence is seen in the home environment, which strengthens the belief in safety back at the workplace. Such a mutual symbiosis, take a while to teach and embrace. This paper will discuss how hazards that can lead to catastrophic consequences are often present in our everyday lives and the lives of our families. It will recount the author’s near miss experience with the tragic Station Nightclub fire in 2003 in Warwick, Rhode Island, as well as, a colleague’s first-hand experience with the recent disaster at AstroWorld in Houston.

It will discuss practical techniques that can be taken home to the family to help us all identify hazardous situations that we encounter in our everyday worlds, recognize when these hazards present significant risk, and then to act and take practical steps to keep ourselves and our families safe. Real life examples will be presented to highlight the concepts, and practical family emergency response planning will also be discussed.

The goal of the presentation is that participants leave with a new appreciation of the potential for catastrophic accidents in their daily lives and the ability to use standard “industrial” safety concepts to prevent and mitigate these impacts on themselves and their families. Success in these endeavors benefits the appreciation of safety in the workplace, creating a mutually symbiotic relationship that values human lives at all fronts.

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