x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Everyone's safety is everyone's duty

Ensuring safety is a collective responsibility of the Government and the people.

An 11-year-old girl died on Monday in a Sharjah hospital, the latest victim of suspected pesticide poisoning, a recurring tragedy across the country. In Abu Dhabi, a 16-year-old died this week when a tent inside his home caught fire. In Ras Al Khaimah, a pedestrian was run over and killed on Tuesday night.

The three cases, and other recent news events, should remind us all that everyone's safety is the responsibility of the whole society.

Many people die everyday because of negligence, be it their own or that of someone else. Officials can issue laws and set regulations and work to enforce them, to cut the number of deaths. But governments cannot control every situation. Nobody can; accidents are inherent in human nature.

This is where individual responsibility comes in: everyone has a duty to society to be vigilant. To be sure, this kind of responsibility begins with those who use dangerous substances and devices, such as pesticides. The idea that children can be killed by an invisible substance wafting through a ventilation system from the vacant flat next door is every parent's nightmare, and too often becomes a reality. But even a window latch can be deadly, if it's not used and a child is left unattended.

Then, of course, there is traffic. The UAE's roads are among the most deadly in the world. In Abu Dhabi alone, 263 people were killed in traffic accidents last year.

On construction sites, many workers die because safety gear has not been provided or because they do not take the time to use it. There were 71 such deaths last year - 13.8 per cent of all fatal injuries in Abu Dhabi.

Last month a 3-year-old boy died after being left in the family car for hours. Recently an 11-year-old girl died of food poisoning.

Accidents of all sorts are inevitable. But the frequency of deaths and serious injuries can be reduced, provided that a culture of safety, of putting safety considerations high on our priority list in everyday activities, can be implanted across society.

People tend to think about prevention only after they have been touched by a tragedy. But each such case, even among people we don't know, should teach us all a lesson. Each person's safety is ultimately the responsibility of every person.