“If you don’t have a buddy, get a buddy!” This quote from the famous cartoon movie Toy Story can be a very effective way to ensure workplace safety. You check in with your mom after traveling, you ask a friend to text you when she gets home from the concert, and you have technology on your kid’s phone to know when they get off the bus. Why not establish a safety plan for the workplace? According to the United States Department of Labor, “nearly 2 million American workers report being victims of workplace violence each year”. Factors that increase your risk for being a victim of violence include, working alone or in isolated areas, working before or after hours of business operation, “working with volatile, unstable people”, and providing a service where you care for others. Many occupations have an increased risk of becoming a victim of workplace violence. Therefore, if risks can be identified, a plan can be put into place. Police Officers use a two way radios to constantly identify their location and disposition so that it is easy to know when they need backup. The average worker can follow this safety example by finding a workplace “buddy”. The main purpose of a workplace buddy is to have someone you can check in with when you safely arrive to your destination. An example of a check could be a phone call, a text message, or an email.
Your workplace buddy can work in the same business as you, but doesn’t have to. The only qualifications a good “buddy” needs is to be dependable and willing to follow a safety plan.
The best safety plans are simple and easy to follow. Here are some examples of when you could check in with your “buddy”.
• Arrive to work safely
• Leave work for the day
• Arrive home from work safely
• Arrive to your travel destination
• Finish a meeting with an unfamiliar person
• Leave the workplace for a task or meeting
• Return to the workplace after a task or meeting
All safety plans must allow for modifications. For example, if you leave work for the day and head out to dinner with a friend, you wouldn’t wait until you arrived home later to message your “buddy”. It is best when first establishing a safety plan to message, call, or text your “buddy” at approximately the same time each day. With the use of modern technology, habits are easily created. Set an alarm or reminder on your phone or computer so you don’t have to worry about remembering to check in with your “buddy”. When you don’t hear from your “buddy”, follow your plan and contact authorities when necessary. Identify an easy to remember secret code word or phrase that will alert your “buddy” that you are in need of help. Understand that all safety plans are “living documents” and must be reviewed and modified often. Remember to keep it simple and get a “buddy”!
Written by Angela Turner
Find additional information on workplace violence at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/