Sense Of Safety: If Someone Feels Unsafe Does It Mean That They Live In An Unsafe Environment?

In the same way that someone needs to eat in order to function at their best, it could also be said that they need to feel safe, too. The food they eat will give them the energy they need, but if they don’t feel safe enough to face the world, it won’t matter.Taking this into account, the food that one eats can be seen as the fuel that goes into a car, and the engine of the car can be seen as one’s body. If the engine doesn’t want to run, as in their body doesn’t want to go anywhere, it won’t matter how much fuel is in the tank, or what they have eaten.The DifferenceNow, this is not to say that the only way that someone can live a fulfilling live is if they always feel safe. It could be said that it will be practically impossible for someone to experience life in this way.For example, if one was to try something new, it can be normal for them to experience a sense of discomfort. What they are doing is not going to be seen as familiar by their mind, so this will cause them to experience anxiety and even a fear.A Short-Term ExperienceTheir mind will get used to what they are doing, though, and this is likely to mean that they will soon settle down. Once they have settled down, they could think about doing something else that will test them.And as this is not something that they experience all the time, this can be something that they find enjoyable. If, on the other hand, this was how they felt more or less all the time, this wouldn’t be the case.

AvoidanceOne might then have the need to do everything they can to try to make sure that they don’t feel any worse. Ultimately, they are going to be in enough pain as it is without adding any more.To the outside observer, it could seem as though they like to play it safe and do everything they can to make sure they don’t feel uncomfortable. In their eyes, one could come across as someone who lacks courage.Way off the MarkHowever, if someone like this was to take the time to get to know them, they would soon find out that there is a lot more to it. For this to take place, they would have to put themselves in one’s shoes.Their mind would then need to be put to one side and they would need to reach out with their heart. Through doing this, they would gradually see that one has enough fear and anxiety within them; what they don’t need is any more.All Too FamiliarAdditionally, they could have moments when they are filled with terror, and this could mean that they find it hard to stay in their body. It is then not going to be uncommon for them to go up into their head or to dissociate.This is also going to mean that their body will freeze, make them want to run away, and even cause them to feel as though they need to defend themselves from time to time. So, even though they are not going to be able to embrace life, they are still going to use a lot of energy.RetractionDoing what they can to make sure that they are not seen by others is then going to be the key. Being themselves and expressing who they are is going to be too much of a risk; it will be far safer for them to hide.One is then going to physically hide or they will hide in plain sight. The fear within them is not going to want them to expand in any way; doing so will be seen as something that would end their life.Hell on EarthWhen someone experiences life in this way, they could be in an abusive relationship, or they could live in an environment that isn’t safe. The kind of relationship that they have with one person or what takes place in one environment is then going to define how they perceive the rest of the world.The ideal would then be for one to pay attention to what is going on within them and then to take action. Leaving the relationship or moving somewhere else would be the first thing that they could do, and they would have trauma to resolve.Inner HellBut while one can experience life in this way due to what is taking place externally, it can primarily be the result of what they are projecting onto the world. What this will show is that one is carrying trauma and this is why they find it hard to feel safe.One is then not going to need to be in situation where their life is at risk, in order to feel as though it is at risk. What this then means is that one can be in an environment that is completely safe and they can still feel unsafe.

The Power of the MindThe fear, anxiety and even terror within them will make them feel as though they are unsafe and this will stop them from being able to be present. Along with this, their mind will filter everything through a certain lens.This leans will cause one to interpret everything through a lens of fear, thereby causing them to see danger where it doesn’t exist. What can make it just about impossible for them to realise what is going on is if they have experienced life in this way for as long as they can remember.Stepping OutIf they were able to see that the only reason why they experience life in this way is because of how they feel on the inside and how their mind interprets the world, it would allow them to see that there is another way. This could show that one experienced trauma during the beginning of their life.Perhaps they were abused and/or neglected by their caregiver. These experiences would then have had a big effect on their mind and body, and defined what they believed about themselves and the world.AwarenessIf one can relate to this, and they want to change their life, it might be a good idea for them to reach out for external support. This is something can be provided by a therapist or a healer.

Tips for Writing Effective Safety Procedures

Safety procedures are an essential part of a safety management system and form a bridge between the general statements made in safety policies and the task specific instructions contained in such things as JSAs. The longer and more complicated they are the less likely they will be read and, therefore, the less likely they will be acted upon which defeats the purpose really.

Someone once said that explanations should be as brief as possible and no briefer and this certainly applies to safety procedures.Here are some suggestions for keeping them brief and easy to understand.

Keeping Safety Procedures Focused

When writing safety procedures it is sometimes easy to drift into areas not directly related to the topic of the procedure. One way of avoiding these distractions is to draw a flow chart. What is the start point, what is the end point and how do people get from one to the other? Developing a flowchart helps you focus on the important things people must to do to meet the goal of the safety procedure. It also helps make sure no steps are missed.


A common template not only makes writing safety procedures easier it also allows users to become familiar with their structured and how to find the information they need. No one wants to have to scroll through pages of irrelevant information to find the bit that they want.

If your business already has a document control system then it is highly likely that a template already exists for business procedures. Using this template aligns the safety procedures with other business procedures with which your readers are already familiar. This makes them more likely to be accepted and used.

Keep it Real

George Orwell (he wrote 1984, Animal Farm and “Big Brother” was his idea) wrote:

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.

Often safety procedures seem to be more of a wish list of things the safety group would like to happen rather than reflecting what is achievable and I’ve been guilty of this myself. Sometimes management want certain requirements written into safety procedures even though implementation in the field is unlikely. Whatever the reason, the writer is probably aware of what is happening and over-justifies the requirements making the safety procedure more difficult and complex to understand.

To help avoid this, have some field staff that you trust or whose opinion you value review your safety procedure before distributing it for formal consultation. Discuss it with them explaining what you’re trying to do and amend it to reflect the comment you receive. The support of the field staff, who actually have to implement the safety procedure, should help you convince management and others of the approach you’ve taken.


It is all too easy to slip into “safety speak” or use “fancy” long words when writing safety procedures. It may shortcut the process but that doesn’t help the people expected to read and follow the procedure understand what you’re talking about. So keep it simple, explain any jargon terms you may use and avoid those long words that no one can pronounce let alone understand.


Long safety procedures are often filled with “waffle” or complicated by trying to address too much.

Safety procedures are action documents. They should focus on providing clear direction what should be done, by whom, when and how. They direct employees on how the business expects them to behave when confronted with a particular hazard. There is no place for the type of generalised comments found in safety policies and restating policy statements in procedures adds nothing of value.

In some cases a single safety procedure can contain everything about a particular hazard and still be reasonably short and and simple. However, some hazards are more complicated and are better dealt with in a number of separate but related safety procedures. For example, rather than have one long procedure dealing with contractor management, it may be better to have a number of smaller ones dealing with the various aspects such as specification development, tender evaluation, induction and so forth.

Legislation and External Standards

Compliance with a safety procedure should automatically produce compliance with legal requirements and any external standard that the business needs to comply with. There is no need to reference the legislation or standard or, even worse, cite it word for word for a few reasons:

  • In general I have found that people switch off the minute you start talking about these things;
  • It creates an impression that the business cares more about complying with legal and external requirements than they do about the safety of their workforce;
  • There is often no easy way of accessing these documents;
  • These requirements are often general and their application needs them to be interpreted. Different people may have differing interpretations. This can lead to debates about which interpretation is correct rather than the most effective way of dealing with a hazard. It is the businesses responsibility, in consultation with the workforce, to decide how legislation and external standards will be applied within their operations.

My view is that people in the field have enough to do without being expected to know or interpret legislation. That’s why businesses employ safety specialists.

Forms and Guidance Materials

Often, wordy details of what people are expected to do can be summarised into a form. The wording in the safety procedure then becomes a simple “Complete form ABC”. The form can contain details on how to complete it if necessary.

Guidelines can be appended to the safety procedure providing additional but non-essential information on what people are supposed to be doing. Such things as legal summaries, extracts from standards and so forth can be included as a guideline that those interested can refer to.

Other Procedures

If your business already has other management systems in place there is a good chance that some of the procedures needed for your safety management system have already been created. They may need some changes to accommodate the safety requirements but these may only be minor. This prevents duplication and is one step towards integrating safety into general business practices. Areas where this maybe possible include:

  • Administrative functions such as document control;
  • Risk management practices;
  • Incident reporting and investigation;
  • Hazard management such as chemicals (if there’s an environmental management system in place).

Even if full integration is not possible, cross referencing to other, non-safety related procedures may help reduce the size of your safety procedures.

Wrapping it Up

Safety procedures are the backbone of a safety management system and the success of the system is largely dependent on how well the safety procedures are followed by the workforce. They have to be written in a way that makes it easy for the workforce to understand and follow. They have to give clear direction and, at the same time, be flexible enough to be used in a variety of situations. That’s what makes them a challenge to write. Hopefully the tips in this post will help you to successfully meet this challenge.