What does that even mean? Well… truth be told, my son AJ helped me out with the title of this post. It’s actually been sitting in my “to be written” file since October 19th. But now’s the time.
Since around that time in October, I’ve been taking a really hard look at everything I want to do on this blog and my other social media outlets.
The one constant has been to continue trying to question status quo and make work safer. Let’s be honest, we’re not where we should be. But there are a TON of great ideas right now. They just need a voice… a platform.
That’s the part I’m most excited about…
Remember that Safety Justice League thing I posted about a few months ago? Well, if you don’t, I don’t blame you. Every time we blink these day’s there’s lifetimes to miss. But I hope you don’t miss out on this.
ON MARCH 4th, SAFETY JUSTICE LEAGUE BECOMES THE PLATFORM
Let me explain. I don’t actually hate the existence of cooling towers. I hate that they break down and fail sometimes. If you’ve read my book, you likely remember why I’m so sensitive about it (and if you haven’t read the book, you probably should). In the meantime, while you’re waiting for your new copy to arrive, I’ll get you up to speed.
Some people like to grandstand. It’s a part of life I should be used to by now. I’m not though. I still get riled up when it happens.
So here’s the scoop… Someone emailed me last week with a very accusatory tone (admit it, you know emails have tone). The message was from a VP who was very concerned about a NEAR MISS that had happened at a construction site at one of her facilities. Her contractors were very shook up about the nearly fatal event and wanted to know what was going to be done to ensure their safety at the site.
What actually happened was this: Some equipment failed and a some plastic fell off of a roof onto the ground at an unoccupied construction site where no one was working. Problem? Yes. Serious near miss? Not quite.
What if there had been people there?!?! (Gasp). What if more equipment fails in the future and bigger chunks of material come careening down to earth in flaming fireballs? What if there was a bus full of children on their first school field trip who were there to see their first construction site? All of that could happen. Doesn’t that qualify it as a near miss?
None of it actually happened. A piece of equipment failed. That equipment needs to be addressed. Hopefully we’ll learn something about preventing damage like that in the future, but the incident was not more than it was.
Safety people need to stop making things up to sell the importance of safety. It makes us look foolish. Instead, we should be using events like the one I described to partner and work on solutions. No one needs to be imaginarily sliced into human confetti in order for action to take place.
Stick to reality. People will respect you more for doing that than they will if you pontificate about the likelihood about being struck by lightening indoors.
That’s a ridiculous statement, obviously. But, I’ve actually met people who would argue to the death that they know everything. I’m sure many of you have, too.
For example, I guy I knew once “grew” an Irish accent (a terrible one) every time he drank Jameson because he wanted to be Irish (unless I see 23andMe results stating otherwise I’m sticking with he most certainly wasn’t). This guy also claimed he was an ex-Special Forces Operator (trainee) who once ate a scorpion during a training exercise in order to avoid being caught. His training records and less-than-operator-status physique argued otherwise. But not everyone is pathological. Some people just… I don’t know.
I can’t really speculate as to why some people feel the need to overly embellish or seem all-knowing. Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s insecurity, maybe it’s peer pressure. I don’t know. I just know it’s wrong. People see through BS. In safety, too much of it will turn people off to the message.
Personally, I stop listening to the message and looking for the errors when I know people blow smoke. Even if they have something worth listening to I miss it. That’s a shame, and admittedly partially my fault. My point though, is that credibility is on the line every time we talk. Its been my experience that you can get a lot more of it by being honest about what you know. And what you don’t know.
The video was a lot of fun, but I think the topic deserves even more attention. I talk with other professionals, read, research, and ponder safety just as much (if not more than) as anyone. This topic didn’t so much pop into my head as it has been sitting there waiting for years. It simply amazes me that there are so many who would rather wing-it than learn it. That’s a disservice for more than one reason:
As previously mentioned, people know when you’re full of it.
I once sat in a meeting in which a particular type of consulting was being proposed for a company. One of the participants chimed in and said “I’ve dealt with these types 8 specific times in my career. One was great, two were awful, and the other four were just so-so.” Anyone with basic math skills could tell he was making up his example. I don’t remember anything else he said and would wager no one else does either.
False information perpetuates itself.
Anyone who’s worked in the safety field knows it’s hard enough to get the right message to stick. Every time one of us makes up a rule or gives out incorrect guidance, it plants a seed that may grow into a mess people have to wade through on their way to safe work.
We owe people good information.
In theory, regardless of who the recipient is, the information a safety professional shares is going to be used to aid in safely completing work. If our guidance is faulty, so too might be the work plan.
If you’ve never thought about your credibility, maybe it’s time to consider what you say. Everyone will be incorrect at times, and that’s fine. Learning and growing should be our focus though. People who get stuck thinking there’s only one way to things have a hard time doing that.
On a side note, if you can do killer accents when you drink hit me up. I’m love hearing cool new stories. Maybe we can chat over a nice dried scorpion (affiliate link):
I just have no idea what everyone else’s music sounds like. The thought occurred to me as I sit here waiting for a delayed flight to New Orleans to attend the annual ASSP National conference. My Safety Technician and I have been sitting around for the past few hours. She’s watching Netflix, and I tried napping but I woke myself up snoring because I got startled (I don’t snore, my wife lies).
So now I’m here with earbuds stuffed into my ears. They still don’t drown out the woman across from me who is expelling her lungs and various bits of bodily fluid from her mouth and nostrils. There’s a louder woman behind me cackling, but potentially contagious bodily fluids heighten my awareness. Also, someone near me is eating A LOT of garlic. But thanks to the musical stylings of Taylor Swift (don’t judge, everyone likes her) those sounds are tolerable.
No one looks up
I know what you’re thinking. I’m going to write some predictable safety diatribe about how technology is ruining our culture and making us unsafe. Wrong. It’s a huge part of our world that’s only going to get more invasive. We need to learn to use it.
I’m just talking about what I see in places like airports. Anywhere crowded really. Everyone is stuck in their three-foot world. We don’t look around and actually see what’s going on. And most people don’t hear it either. There are a million ways to take this conversation, but I’m just going to suggest you think about it for yourself.
The next time you’re out and about, pause, take a beat, raise your eyes above the level of your next two steps and take in the panoramic view. Then pull one earbud out (baby steps, right?) Not only will you see interesting stuff, you’ll have an awareness most don’t. Plus people say some incredibly funny stuff.
But the awareness is key. We could all stand to get better at it. That’s all for me for now. See you in New Orleans.