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Dee McNaught, Director

It's a running joke in our house that I am an accident waiting to happen. Strange I know since I am most commonly referred to as that 'bird that does health and safety stuff '. I am clumsy, I trip over thin air, I have dodgy knees and I have the ability to make even the most innocuous of objects a potential hazard. I even missed out on receiving an award at high school for public speaking from the Accident Prevention Council because I was involved in an accident beforehand. But today, my sensible, safe, hazard aware, emergency service trained husband got hurt at work. Fifteen stitches, an ambulance and three hours of hospital, worth of hurt.

My husband looks after everyone, he's good at it and his career depends on it. He keeps everyone around him safe - me, the kids, the old grumpy beagle we have and of course his work team. In that moment his learned behaviour was to make it safe for others, however, during that process he neglected to make it safe for himself. He got hurt. And the twist in this tale? Moments earlier he had intervened when a junior colleague attempted the same action. He knew it was unsafe. What a div.

This got me thinking. On paper, given my accident C.V. it should have happened to me. That's when I realised that an accident doesn't care who it happens to. You can have all the training, years of service and common sense in your pocket but really it comes down to split second decision making - choosing to do the safe thing, the right thing. That's essentially what health and safety awareness is, the ability to decide what to do next in a situation. It doesn't come from training and it certainly doesn't come from a manual - it's a learned behaviour (with the emphasis on learned).

The good thing is, behaviours can change, you can learn new ones and make them habit. As a caring wife, I'll maybe wait a week or so though, before imparting my expertise in this area to the patient in question, but to quote Ms Morissette, 'isn't it ironic' that for the next wee while most things will fall to me, the one that's the accident waiting to happen!

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