Being safe

Every day when you get out of bed, you are constantly faced with making decisions that can affect your safety. You are surrounded by hazards when you cross the road, cook in the kitchen and when you go out with your friends. It’s difficult to be completely safe, but it is possible to reduce the risks you face.

It's difficult to be completely safe, but it is possible to reduce the risks you face.

Different people can help us to be safe and can look at different hazards involved. When you were little, your parents and teachers probably gave you advice and taught you how to be safe, for example, Stranger Danger or not touching things that were hot. As you go through the teenage years, ways of avoiding different hazards also have to be considered.

Laws to Protect Us

The Government passes laws that are designed to keep us safe and protect us from harm. Sometimes these are backed up by other people or organisations like the police. Sometimes the law will depend on us taking personal responsibility and keeping ourselves as safe as possible.

An example of this is the use of social media or accessing Internet chatrooms. As you are sometimes not able to see the person you are communicating with , you cannot be sure that they are who they say they are, so you must be careful. Don’t give out any personal details, and warn pupils not to give out their address or telephone number. Never arrange to meet somebody that you have communicated with on social media if you don’t know them personally.

There is a feeling that internet ‘self-regulation’ has failed, and the Government has recently announced its intention to bring in new legislation making it illegal for an adult to send a communication of a sexual nature to a child, among other things.

Businesses also follow rules and guidelines designed to keep us safe.

Businesses also follow rules and guidelines designed to keep us safe. Standards are set to ensure that any risk is kept as small as possible. This is what happens with all the products and services we use, whether it is a meal in a restaurant, a PC which will be plugged in to the mains system, the flavourings in a yoghurt or the colouring in a shampoo.

New Products

When a new product is being developed, the company will decide which ingredients to include in that product. Many ingredients have already been tested and proven to be safe. The Scientific Committee on Cosmetics and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers (SCCNFP), is an independent committee of scientific experts that advises the European Commission about the safety of ingredients. Their judgement is based on information from lots of sources and from scientific tests, which have been done, some of which may have involved testing on animals. The European Commission must then decide if the law needs changing.

If a new ingredient or a new product is developed, the company will have to carry out a lengthy assessment process. The assessment may involve many different stages and they can be stopped at any stage if it seems that the ingredient or product may be harmful. The safety assessment will usually involve:

  • background research about information which already exists
  • scientific tests in living cells which can be produced in science labs
  • later stage tests on human volunteers where dilutions of the ingredient may be tested on a small area of the body to see if it produces irritation or a reaction.

In Britain, animal testing is no longer carried out on any finished cosmetic products or their ingredients. That includes, fragrances, suncare, oral care, haircare, personal care and decorative cosmetics. This prohibition was extended to all European countries following a change in European law. Many people have strong feelings about the use of animals in testing. Some believe that all animal testing is wrong, some believe it is right for medical purposes and some believe that scientists and doctors should use their own judgement.

However safe a product may be, there are still many ways it can be misused and can present a risk. Many different factors have to be considered to keep things as safe and risk-free as possible. Think about the way companies have tried to reduce these risks, for example, childproof tops on the bottles of dangerous substances and guards for products which become hot, or which spin rapidly. Electric socket covers were found to be more dangerous than leaving the socket uncovered!

Although companies will do all that they can to keep products safe, we have to recognise that some of the responsibility lies with us to make sure we do all we can to think of our own safety.

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