published in John Petropoulos Memorial Fund, Police Line-Of-Duty Deaths, Workplace Safety by Maryanne | April 28, 2014

Ten Steps to Ensure Your Workplace Isn’t Where Someone Takes Their LAST Step

 By Maryanne Pope

 Boots and flashlight photo from Boots shoot

Is your workplace safe for everyone, including police, fire and EMS who might have to attend during an emergency?

Don’t know? Here are ten simple steps to help you answer the question:

1. Take a good look around your workplace. Right now.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Imagine you are a first responder seeing the place for the first time.

4. Open your eyes.

5. Look around your work space again but this time, see it from their perspective.

6. And since they likely aren’t in your workplace for a picnic, throw in some smoke in the case of fire, or perhaps an alarm in the case of a break and enter.

7. Now ask yourself: are there any hazards that I am aware of – in the light of day under normal circumstances – but someone unfamiliar with this premise/yard/site attending during an emergency wouldn’t be able to see?

8. If you can’t answer that question, take a quick look at the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund’s 10-minute safety video, Put Yourself in Our Boots

9. If you can answer that question and do see a hazard that could be a potential danger to someone unfamiliar with your premise: fix, change or remove it.

10. Today.

Don’t think a fatality can happen at your workplace?

Think again. It can. It did.

John receiving badge from Chief Silverberg

Cst John Petropoulos receiving police badge, 1997

On September 29th, 2000 Calgary police officer, Cst John Petropoulos, was searching the mezzanine level of a warehouse during the investigation of a break and enter complaint. John stepped through an unmarked false ceiling, fell into the lunchroom below and died of head injuries. There was no safety railing in place to warn him of the danger. The complaint turned out to be a false alarm; there was no intruder in the building.

Here’s what the K-9 officer, who was working with John the night he fell, had to say:

“As emergency services workers, we are tasked with protecting our community in environments that are never predictable, always volatile, and often beyond our control. We tread into environments that demand skill and knowledge; where putting one foot in front of the other is a way of life. Still, there are unsafe elements that exist in our workplace that we cannot expect, where only the unexpected happens.

The work of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund brings to the forefront the issue of workplace safety after hours – when our community is asleep, we are protecting their businesses, properties and investments, which are often themselves the very menace we face. The JPMF inspires us to carefully continue putting one foot in front of the other while demanding that the community protect us as we protect them.”

Staff Sergeant Darren Leggatt, Calgary Police Service, ILEETA Review

If you’ve never considered the safety of first responders who may have to attend your workplace in case of emergency, you’re not alone. Here’s a candid comment by an OH&S Manager after hearing a John Petropoulos Memorial Fund workplace safety presentation:

“I have been involved in safety for 18 years and 9 years as a Manager. I am embarrassed to admit that I never thought of the Health and Safety of emergency response workers who may have to enter our property. Hearing the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund’s workplace safety presentation brought awareness about the safety of emergency workers who may have to respond at our facilities.”

But now that you are aware – and still choose to do nothing? If a preventable injury or fatality were to occur at your workplace, the cause would be negligence versus ignorance. And trust me: negligence is not only a very expensive excuse – it’s one you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.

For when we know better, we do better.

To find out more about how to make your workplace safe for everyone, including first responders, please visit the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund’s website. If your company, organization or school is in Alberta, you can contact Judy Hobbs judy@jpmf.ca to book your free safety presentation.

John & Maryanne on beach

John & Maryanne on beach, 2000

Maryanne Pope was married to John Petropoulos and is the author of A Widow’s Awakening. Maryanne also writes screenplays and play scripts, including Saviour. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.

 

 

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