Children like all of us, learn through experience

Our children (age 6 and soon to be 4) love to play.  Our youngest child Willow (seen in this picture), can often be found doing things that are unsafe.  However, I managed to capture this moment a few days ago when she was colouring in whilst wearing her bike helmet.  At such a young age and without her father’s input, she has learned – safety first 😊!

Our children struggle to maintain their concentration for longer than 15 minutes (that is unless Elsa and Anna are on the Television, tablet or phone).  How their school teachers manage to maintain their concentration I do not know.  But what I do know is that when they are asked to learn anything, they want it to be fun.  Like myself really, I learn through doing, I learn through experiencing how to do something and then refining that process forth going.  When learning to drive (twenty years ago), I much preferred the practical application of driving the car than the theoretical element of how to drive a car and what the various road signs relate to.  Like all things in life, of course there is a balance and we need both.  I think if all of us can make health and safety practical, our advice, our training and our relationships with those we encounter, step by step we will impact generations to come.

For too long health and safety has been seen as the fun police.  The boring anorak wearing people who tell you, you can’t do this, and you definitely cannot do that.  I think we are now starting to see a shift in this attitude as younger practitioners and changes to how the application of health and safety is being applied by many great practitioners across the globe.  I for one, enjoy various risky activities, but with the right controls in place, I have controlled the risk.  Many a Primary School across the country has now introduced Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL), which is great for children to learn and have fun whilst being at school.  OPAL adopted sensibly with the right standards in place to safely monitor equipment and children, can be tremendously rewarding for school leaders, children and parents alike.

All of us need a toolkit to do what we do, and I want to introduce you to an excellent toolkit that you may or may not be aware of.  Learning Occupational Health by Experiencing Risks (LOcHER) originated in 2015/16 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to raise the awareness in schools and colleges of pupils and students to risk management.  Although the HSE initiated this idea, they are very much hands off, allowing education leaders to develop ideas to raise awareness.

When I was at school, the only memory I have of health and safety was in the Design & Technology  and Science departments and there certainly never was anyone encouraging me to go into the Safety & Health profession.  The intention of LOcHER however is that the profile of Occupational Safety and Health is developed at a younger age, prior to young people entering the workplace.  This is a great initiative, makes complete sense and one in which every school and college I believe should be adopting.  Not to mention by using LOcHER this also helps the future generations of Occupational Health and Safety Practitioners also.  As life develops, I am sure that new risks will be encountered and the future generations of OSH practitioners I am sure would welcome and appreciate the increased OSH awareness at a younger age of future workers.

In the 2012 Play Safety Forum Publication Managing Risk in Play Provision the authors highlight that “Learning from experience involves encountering difficulty as much as pleasure”.  This is also  important for future generations to learn.  Life has its ups and downs, is never plain sailing and becoming resilient, I believe is a key skill that needs to be taught to young people.  By introducing LOcHER, schools and colleges can introduce fun activities that raise the awareness of young people to OSH, create opportunities to problem solve and develop resilience skills

As Albert Einstein once said “a person who never made a mistake never tried anything”.  If as society we wrap ourselves up in red tape, cotton wool and bureaucracy, we will lose our creative, ambitious and entrepreneurial spirit that has enabled the human race to do so many wonderful things.  So if you haven’t checked out LOcHER, I would encourage you to think about how you can introduce LOcHER into your school or college.  For practitioners, I’d welcome your thoughts and suggestions on how collectively we can use our experiences to invest into future generations. 

Use #locherproject in your social media posts so others can see what great work you have done.

Scott Crichton was first introduced to health and safety as part of his role within the military back in 2004.  His first full time role began in 2006 as a health and safety co-ordinator within the financial industry.  After seven years, he progressed to a regional role within the ambulance service, before obtaining his current Principal Consultant role with Ellis Whittam covering counties in South West England.  As a consultant, he finds himself working alongside various clients across a wide client base, including but not limited to education, engineering, health & social care, manufacturing, retail, pharmaceutical, small & medium contractors and town & parish councils.

Scott is a member of the HSE People Panel offering insight into HSE in the Public Sector. If you would like to ask Scott or another panel member a question get in touch