Security and safety awareness, what is it and is it something you can learn?
I can almost hear you saying:” I already know what is right and wrong. I am good”
But let’s be honest, most of us really think they know and understand what it is to be aware. Yet often times when we hear, see or read…or worse encounter something we are at least somewhat surprised, if not shocked.
The thing is that we live in such a dynamic world and with so many different people that unless we consciously going to accept that, we are always going to be surprised about certain actions or encounters. This is great if these are all good things, but the fact is that there are unfortunately a lot of bad, sad and dangerous things that surprise us if we are not ready.
What is security awareness? In concrete terms, this means that a person is being aware of the possible risks of a certain environment or action. That he or she can effectively detect an anomaly and convert the deviated signals into an alert and with that consciously respond to an unsafe situation in the safest possible way.
Unless you grew up or have worked in an environment that required to be on high alert all the time, you are not wired to quickly recognize or respond adequately to danger. This means you have to train it. With that I am not saying that you have to go live dangerously. Becoming aware luckily can also be learned in a safe environment if you are willing to.
This you can do by learning from other people’s experiences and through awareness trainings in where you are being given the tools that help you with how to detect and act best in certain situations.
Yes, it requires some motivation but after seeing, reading or hearing about everything that is happening on this globe and being accepting of the fact that we as person simple do not know everything, we have to be honest and acknowledge that we definitely could use some more tools and information to keep us and our loved ones safe.
It starts already with little things you can do yourself. Apart from the various online awareness courses you can start with asking yourself critical questions. After seeing, hearing or reading about a certain event, ask yourself if you’d be ready to spot, escape or survive that situation.
Most of our responses when we are under stress are made unconsciously unless we are trained. But even the simplest questions like, “Am I (or my kids/partner/colleague/friend) really aware what’s going on around me or am I on my phone or often lost in thoughts when I am on the street or at work?”, are good to reflect and hopefully motivate you to take action.
This motivation has to come from within. You may think that you are safe, when you are not. Your conscious and unconscious beliefs must be challenged a bit sometimes to come to the conclusion that you can live, act or work safer with a little adjustment. But it starts with being honest to yourself and become more self-aware.
You have to be willing to get a good and honest understanding of who you are and what your basic attitude is. Do you like to take risks or not, are you often procrastinating a bit or not, are you physically and emotionally able to respond to risks? Increasing self-awareness is the best way to adjust your behavior. You then can become more safety and security conscious.
There are basic and advanced awareness trainings. This all depends on your risk appetite or the requirement that comes with living or working in a certain environment that requires or encourages you to become more aware.
Creating a positive safety and security awareness culture in an organization can only be done when all layers of the organization are involved. Although often unaware, we all deal with safety and security on a day-to-day basis in our jobs as well as in our private lives.
In organizations one should always bear in mind is that an employee will only work safely if he or she is aware of the “how” and “why” of working safely and secure. It is important that each employee feels that they are valued. Every employee must experience that you really care about their security and safety. When an organization provides the necessary structures and resources, success is guaranteed. I cannot emphasize enough that setting up an awareness program can only best succeed if this is carried out by the entire hierarchical line, from the CEO to the janitor. From the highest to the lowest rank, from the person with the most responsibility to the person with the least responsible in a team, family or organization.
Some tips for organizations are: (Bear in mind that you can replace the word leader for parent or team coach and the word employee or people for child, loved one, colleague etc.)
Leaders should be committed and a good example for their people when it comes to actions. Show that you care about their well-being. When you set a good example as a leader, people follow faster. After all, security and safety awareness must be woven into all layers of the organization.
An organization should really empower the employees that show an interest in security and safety. Give them opportunities. Give them the means and cooperate with them or positively challenge them in setting up the necessary procedures and rules. Value and reward employees who contribute to better performance. Think of an employee of the month award, a promotion, a free afternoon, a dinner coupon or maybe some training they like, etc.
Make sure your communication is understood by all levels, departments, ages. Deliver a message in a creative, positive way. Make sure that opportunities exist to enable good feedback, act on it and quickly clarify why something is or is not possible.
Discuss possible consequences of unsafe actions with the employee and look together for safer ways to get the job done. However, keep the discipline. Exceptionally, a warning may be necessary to disapprove of misconduct. Make sure that those who deliver the message are able to communicate and possess the necessary skills.
As you can see this is not something you can do overnight. It is a whole process that is never really finished. Increasing safety and security awareness means breaking behavioral patterns that perpetuate unsafe behavior. Once you start you have to keep the theme under constant attention. You have to openly and regularly discuss the topic. Create a culture in which people dare to discuss everything related to safety or security. One can find it safe, while the other still sees enough points for improvement.
Always put the theme of safety and security on the agenda, both in joint and personal meetings. By sharing and discussing examples or near misses with each other, the risks remain under attention and at the same time add to the learning curve. By discussing example situations, you get people thinking. Ensure that people dare to speak to each other when they see or feel that something is unsafe. Awareness should be fun and not a chore. Ensure that these meetings are helpful and motivating so that people are eager to participate.
Of course, there are many more things to think of that contribute to increasing security and safety awareness, think of mechanical, technical, situational, tactical and behavioral awareness, etcetera but then this article will become too long. Hence why I kept it more general.
Yes, some people will not, and maybe never, see the need as also do not feel responsible for their or other people’s safety and security and they are super hard to motivate and activate. That of course requires a whole different approach but elaborating on that will take up too much space for this article.
I hope that this information has at least given you some clarity about the basics of what security and safety awareness is and that for any, level, age, industry, profession or situation trainings, plans and protocols can be found or tailored.
If you have any questions about this subject or if you would like some more information, feel free to reach out!
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