Firefighters are associated with bravery and life-threatening situations. The risk of injury or death in their line of work is so high that one tiny mistake can cost them their life. Not only their lives but the lives of their coworkers as well.
Among Canadian firefighters, 89.9% of time-loss injury claims are due to traumatic injuries. Then come musculoskeletal issues and connective tissue diseases at 2.3%, and mental health problems at 1.7%.
Even though firefighting is a very specific type of work, every other business can learn a lot from these courageous men and women regarding workplace safety and hazards.
At the fire station, every little thing is in its place. When an emergency strikes, there is no awkward scrambling, looking for essential tools and assets, no delay in responding to it.
Extensive planning is essential to keep everything running smoothly and to avoid health and safety risks. Clean assets that are regularly maintained, and well-rested (and satisfied) personnel make for a safe working environment.
Building Team Trust
The chances are that you are not a one-person show. You rely on your team to get the job done, no matter what it is. It may not be a life or death situation like in firefighting, but a team that trusts each other is infinitely more productive than a team that doesn't.
If an issue arises in the workplace, a team that relies on each other and knows each member's strengths and weaknesses will resolve it in record time.
In an emergency, firefighters are continually communicating with each other. It is important to inform everyone of the conditions inside a building, of who is doing what, as well as to keep the superiors in the loop. If something goes wrong, effective communication will ensure that everyone is as safe as possible.
Take a cue from firefighters and build open and honest communication channels with your team members. This will increase the team's efficiency and help spot any health and safety hazards before anyone gets hurt.
Check in With the Others
Firefighters are all too aware of how their job affects the mind. Your employees may not be in the business of running into burning buildings, but your team is definitely experiencing stress in the workplace.
To further strengthen the bond between team members and encourage communication, checking in with them once in a while is a good idea. Ask your personnel how they're doing, and listen to what they have to say. Offer advice or help if the strain of the job is getting to them. This will only increase the trust you're hoping to develop among coworkers.
Firefighters teach us that planning is crucial to effective emergency response. Relationships between team members will determine how well the team responds to an emergency. The more trust they have in each other, the better their communication is, the more prepared they will be for mitigating risk and handling unpredictable situations.
Even though you are not putting your life on the line every workday, you can still learn a lot from those who make life-saving their primary duty. After all, remember that safety is a mindset.