Safety Gets Personal: A Focus on Safety Off the Job

July 21, 2015 by Joe Smetanka
Categories: Safety

Safety is the nuclear energy industry’s highest priority, and it’s embedded in every piece of our work here at Westinghouse. Safety specific to nuclear technology and its associated materials is of critical importance, as well as the safety of those with whom we interact – including our customers, suppliers and the public.Also of top importance is the safety and well-being of our employees. We focus on this through various tools, trainings, programs and processes that reinforce a robust and disciplined approach to industrial and personnel safety in the workplace. It’s essential to Westinghouse because we want our employees to go home in the same condition as that in which they came to work; however, we also believe that that strong focus on safety shouldn’t stop when our employees walk off the job site at the end of their shift.

Taking the safety expectations from work and choosing to apply them in someone’s personal life, including using them at home and with friends and family … that’s truly when safety is engrained into one’s DNA. It can be as simple as holding the handrail while using the stairs, or not walking while texting on a cell phone to ensure that your eyes remain on your path.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve injured myself outside of work. After several broken bones and a fracture over the last few years, I have experienced firsthand that accidents in one’s personal life can happen, even to those with a vigilant safety mindset when on the job. These accidents reinforced the need for that total-safety mindset in every aspect of my life.

For example, I am more diligent about utilizing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) when I’m off the job. I wear safety shoes when cutting the grass, safety glasses when using power tools, and gloves when handling sharp or heavy objects. This has made a difference in the number of small injuries that I have experienced in my personal life outside of working hours. Eliminating minor injuries is the key to ensuring that the major injuries never occur.

Safety is an ongoing journey that requires constant attention, rigor and commitment. Our employees are recognizing safe behaviors and acting accordingly, both at work and home. However, we cannot and will not be complacent when it comes to safety. We are committed – at all levels of our organization – to continuous improvement in our safety practices and culture for employees in all facets of their lives.

I’m proud to say that I work in an industry so very committed to the safety of its employees, customers and the public, and even more proud of the role that Westinghouse plays in that commitment. Our CEO, Danny Roderick, signs off messages to employees with the phrase, “Be safe, think safe and always be on the lookout for others.” What a simple – yet very powerful – message! I encourage you to think and be safe, both on and off your job, no matter the industry in which you work.

Joe Smetanka

Joe Smetanka
Director, Global Environment, Health and Safety
Westinghouse Electric Company