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Safety Positive: Good Stuffs Vol 3

Mentors make careers meaningful… Michael King is bringing them to you!

I was extremely blessed to have a mentor early in my safety career who taught me to question everything. Not for the sake of being obstinate, but for the sake of learning. That’s a sentiment my friend Nathan Braymen (featured in good stuffs vol 2) talks about a lot in his #RedBeard videos.

In any case, my mentor Nick, was a huge part of my life for quite a few years. Even when I no longer worked for him, he was a sounding board and a source of encouragement. He often told me I was more talented than he could ever hope to be. I don’t know if that was true, but it sure made me want to live up to that high bar.

The most impactful thing he gave me, however, were his stories. They were amazing. And even when he told me one I’d heard a thousand times, I listened. His wisdom, humor, and ability to deeply (and objectively) analyze himself and others are skills I have tried to adapt and make my own since first working with him in 2008.

Unfortunately, Nick passed away due to cancer in 2016. Since then I’ve met some great peers, but no one has been able to match the guidance he provided me. In large part, that was what drove me to write A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit. Several of his stories are included in it. This post isn’t about me, but please do check out the book.

(Affiliate Link)

Then do yourself a favor and check out safetyrefined.com

Michael King has a passion for mentoring people. Whether helping out at-risk teens, coaching sports, or helping new safety professionals grow, Michael is working to make the world better one person at a time.

His website (safetyrefined.com) is a unique resource for safety professionals at any point in their career. It’s aimed at finding great mentors then helping others find them. Let’s do all of ourselves a favor and help support Michael in this endeavor. You never know how much impact it might have on you.

You Can’t Manage Safety With Chaos

Shameless plug time: This is a topic I harped on for pages in my book. If you like these posts (or even if you don’t but you’re willing to consider a different opinion), I think you’ll enjoy it. A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit is available at Amazon (affiliate link), Barnes & Noble, CRC Press, and tons of other obscure websites I’ve never heard of (don’t get a virus).

(Affiliate Link)

My son is a master the False Dilemma

“Dad, can I play on my tablet before dinner?”

“No, you need to finish your homework.”

“So you’re saying I can’t watch TV before bed?” He responds.

I imagine part of his questioning is a clever ploy to get me to commit to the latter activity. But on the surface, at least, those two topics have nothing do do with one another. One certainly doesn’t guarantee the other. He might also know that his homework will take much longer than he told me it would, but I digress. Here’s another good one.

“AJ, you need to clean your room before you go to your friend’s house.”

“What?” he asks somewhat hysterically. “You mean we’re not getting ice cream tonight?”

Safety arguments are often the same

The argument that I’m alluding to, of course, is that safety performance can be measured by rates. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

As you can tell, I’ve kicked this dead horse several times, but it keeps resurrecting itself like an undead zombie pony. Ponies are evil. This one needs to be dispatched for good. Not just because it’s wrong, but because it’s harmful. Harmful you ask? Yes, for two reasons:

Pick up the pieces and move on

Too often we get caught up in creating “corrective actions” based on events in order to prevent something from ever happening again. While that is often a prudent measure, it’s easy to get over zealous in that activity. No one can guarantee that something will never happen again. There are too many variables. Going overboard can lead to sitting around waiting for the next bad thing to happen before you do something. That’s equivalent to playing whack-a-mole blindfolded.

When something happens correct what’s reasonable, but then go and seek out the things in your environment that are going to fail. Fix them before they do. In the absence of action that actively eliminates hazards before they harm, we’re just begging for chaos.

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com

Is Your Safety Motivation From Four-Letter Words?

More specifically, the “O” word…

Don’t be this guy’s backside.

For some, this might seem like preaching to the choir. Others have made a safety career out of fear mongering through the threat of legal action from OSHA. Since that statement alone is likely to garner some hate, let me just say this: If someone’s best argument for why safety should be done is because “OSHA says so,” they probably don’t have a very good grasp on what makes people tick.

It shouldn’t even need to be said, but unfortunately the zealots are still out there in droves. Every day I here something along the lines of this or that “is required by law.” That statement is about as obvious and unnecessary as me stating that I would be taller if my legs were longer.

Of course we have to comply with the law. No one is arguing that. What I’m driving at, however, is that using that reasoning to influence people is just plain ineffective. People need to know why beyond compliance. As in, how will this keep me alive and out of the hospital?

I get it. It’s easy to forget our own humanity and get wrapped up in rules and regulations. Just make sure you bring yourself back to reality once and a while and remind yourself that there is really only one four-letter-word that should matter when talking safety: LIFE.

Believe it or not, safety existed before OSHA

If you’ve never read up on the construction of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and it’s lead engineer Joseph Strauss, it’s worth the time. The project had some low points for sure (11 fatalities), but it was also revolutionary in many ways. The point is that they did safety because it was the right thing to do, not because the government told them to. Check out the clip below to see what I mean:

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com

Why You Should Manage Safety With CPR

Just not the mouth to mouth part… HR won’t approve

“Jason!” our new safety manager, Wally, hovered over my desk and studied my name tag. “Your name sounds familiar.”

In my mind I flashed back through the half dozen or so times I had introduced myself to him at various company events through the years. At least one of those times he had spilled his gin and tonic on me, so his lack of recollection wasn’t any surprise.

“We’ve met, Wally.” I said. Then I bit my tongue and decided against saying anything else.

Wally was a corporate guy who had outlasted his usefulness. The company had closed his region and needed a place for him. Our project was a nice, quiet corner to tuck the old drunk into. As a bonus perk his best drinking buddy (The Tongue) was already there.

Shortly after our “introduction,” Wally assembled the staff for a meeting and announced there would be substantial changes to our operation. At the end of his speech on of the clerks raised her hand and asked when we could expect the changes to start. He didn’t need to take any time considering his answer.

Tomorrow…

We all thought he was joking. As it turned out, the joke was on us. Wally reassigned everyone in the department, demoted our supervisor, and put his drinking buddy in charge of the safety team. It was a nightmare.

In the span of just a year, the changes he’d made proved so damaging that nearly 60% of the staff had left to find new jobs. All of us were actively looking, too. It was a shame, because we worked for one of the best companies around. I eventually left as well ( that crazy story is in my book, and worth getting a copy just for that one section)

Any decent leader knows that going into a new environment guns blazing isn’t a great proposition. Still many think they know more than everyone else and feel the need to assert their dominance. Every time I’ve seen that done it’s been a sure path to poor performance.

There’s a better way though.

Look, Listen, Feel

If you’ve been through the American Heart Association’s CPR training, you’ll likely recall that mantra. It’s what you do when you find a victim who potentially needs resuscitation. First you look to see if the person’s chest is rising (are they breathing?). Next you listen for sounds of that breath. Then you feel for air movement. Finally you (firmly) tap them on the shoulders and loudly ask “are you OK?” It’s a simple way to distinguish between passed out drunk or dead.

The idea also works for leadership. When you take over a new area of responsibility figure out what’s happening and how your style fits. Here’s how:

  • LOOK at the way things happen in your new environment. Be critical, but keep your mouth shut so you can do the next thing on the list.
  • LISTEN to the things your people say. Are they negative, positive, apathetic, passionate? If you take the time to listen, make sure you actually hear what they are saying.
  • FEEL your way into your new role (figuratively… don’t be creepy). Ask around about what people expect, but more importantly what they need.
  • ASK your new crew how they’re doing and how you can deliver on what it is they need.

Wally was an ass, don’t be like Wally

If you’ve never had a gung-ho know it all manager like Wally, count your blessings. But also do your best not to become him. You might have the greatest ideas in the world, but if no one respects you, they’ll never get any traction. Build relationships first, then use them to change the world.

Being on good terms with your staff will also make it more likely they won’t hold it against you when you spill your drink on them and forget their name. Here’s to being good leaders!

BUY IT HERE!

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com

Are You Looking For Safety In The Right Places?

Or are you getting distracted?

This sentiment isn’t too far off from “concerns” I’ve heard

I was recently invited to do a podcast with John Chapman on his Blue Collar Voices show. Check it out if you haven’t yet. It was a great conversation. John caught me off guard at one point, though, when he asked me if my experience and training made me constantly notice all of the hazards around me.

I had to think about my answer for a minute, because in some respects I suppose those of us in this field do notice more than the average person (not always though). But fixating on every hazard out there can easily lead to an existence of fear and irrationality. So what I told John is that I try to prioritize my observations and find the big things. That’s not to say we should ignore issues on our work sites, only that some deserve more attention than others.

Getting wrapped up in the trivial is what drives arbitrary rules, unjustified expenses, and encourages weakness in the name of preventing strains. It’s something I imagine every safety professional has tripped up on now and again. If for no other reason than genuinely trying to help someone.

Because safety is… emotional

How many times have you had a safety concern brought to your attention that just sounded scary? Or, even worse, how often has a fellow safety professional (maybe a superior) elevated a minor issue to a place of prominence when far greater issues exist? We should be prioritizing those issues instead. Sometimes that just means educating people on the differences between hazards and risks. When we don’t do a good job at that, workers roll their eyes at our “safety” programs.

And I can’t really blame them.

Craig strikes again!

A couple weeks ago I posted about a villainous construction superintendent who nearly created a riot in the site parking lot. He actually did a lot of things that put safety on perpetual rewind. Another of those episodes was his initiative to eliminate tripping.

At it’s core, the objective was actually a good one, but the correction was not commensurate with the risk. The issue was simple. Someone had stepped over (instead of ducking under) caution tape and tripped, resulting in a first aid injury. The fix was overkill. From that day forward, the mandate became that all temporary caution tape installations were to have a top and middle “rail,” and an entry gate.

Some would certainly agree that his “solution” solved the problem. I would argue that a little bit of personal responsibility and accountability would have done the same. What we ended up with was a whole lot of waste, extra work, and snide comments. I wonder what might have been missed while everyone was distracted by the fancy plastic barriers.

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com

I Failed A Hearing Test And Got A Brain Scan

Military hearing tests are not much different than civilian ones… except…

Time moves slower when you’re locked inside a dark metal box. In my estimation I was in that hearing booth for at least 30 minutes before ripping off my headphones and busting out. It actually wasn’t completely dark, but I take hearing tests with my eyes closed and try not to move. I’ve had mild hearing loss since experiencing a rash of ear infections as a kid. They culminated in three surgeries and, as one of my doctors put it, scar tissue that “looks like Freddy Kruger’s face.” The test is always stressful for me. This one would not end.

I looked around the room as my eyes adjusted and spotted the technician running my test. She looked startled, but appeared to know why I was out. During the test I kept hearing a strange, staticy “click click” sound followed by tones I had already heard and mashed my little red button to acknowledge.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“You’re failing sir,” She replied.

“Ok, and?” I waited for a moment but she stayed silent. “Why isn’t it ending then?” She looked at me and blushed a little then cleared her throat.

“I’ve been restarting it. I need you to pass or you’ll have to see the doctor.”

“So, write that down that I failed and let me go see the doctor.” I said. Terror entered her eyes. She was about to object when I stopped her. “I’ll tell him I i insisted.”

She reluctantly complied, printed out my failed test, and told me to wait in the corner for the doctor.

Turns out my brain looks like everyone else’s… mostly

The “doctor” met me in a small, windowless room full of filing cabinets. He was a US Air Force officer, but he was clearly from somewhere else. I didn’t notice as he looked over my paperwork but then he spoke to me in a thick accent. I couldn’t place it, mainly because I was distracted by the fact that he only had three front teeth.

“Basically I do not want to do the paper works. They are a pain in my ass.” No exaggeration, that’s what he told me. “You come back tomorrow. You’ll pass.”

I most certainly did not pass. In fact, I rode my motorcycle to work just to make sure nothing was too quiet before the redo. My second test was identical, though: a 30 dB shift in my left ear only. That was alarming to every other doctor except Major Care-Less. I didn’t know it at the time but unilateral shifts that severe are really uncommon unless you have some known trauma… or a brain tumor. Hence the brain scan.

That showed nothing except a mild Chiari Malformation (my brain tissue extends into my spinal canal) . It doesn’t actually affect me any way, but I choose to believe it’s there because my brain was just too big to fit into a normal skull. In any case, no one could figure out what had caused my sudden hearing loss.

Then the light-bulb moment struck

Shortly after all of the tests and evaluations came up empty, I was reassigned from missile maintenance to the munitions safety and training office. As I was finishing packing up one day, I heard an all-too-familiar pop from behind the shop. Someone had just released the pressure on the storage tank of our mobile high-pressure compressor. It was something I’d done hundreds of times myself. The closest thing I can compare it to is a shotgun blast, followed by the high pitched hiss of compressed air.

The sound echoed through my skull and made my left ear throb despite the fact that I was inside. Then it hit me. I knew exactly what had caused my hearing loss. The compressor.

I replayed all of the times I had gone out to release the pressure on that unit in slow-motion. When all the tool kits were open and people were working in the shop it was easy to grab some ear plugs and a pair of ear muffs (both were required for that operation) and run to the back pad to release the air. But that’s not what typically happened.

Typically we would only run it for half a day and then turn off the engine. Inevitably we would forget the tank was still pressurized until all of the tools and supplies were inventoried and locked up for the day. No one wanted to sign anything back out at that point, so we (or at least I) had a habit of running to the pad and plugging our ears with our fingers. That meant one hand had to dislodge to pull the pin. I always used my left.

Protect yo selfs

I don’t usually get too technical in these posts, but you can’t grow your hearing back. Here are a few things to consider about hearing protection:

  • The goal for using hearing protection is to attenuate noise levels to a safe level. For example, if a worker is exposed to 95 dB, their hearing protector needs to provide either 5 dB (to meet the OSHA PEL) or 10 dB (to meet the NIOSH PEL) of protection.
  • The “best” hearing protection is the model you wear correctly and consistently.
    • Individual fit testing can aid in determining this for users.
    • An easy test for ear canal inserts is to cup your hand over your ear. If there is no change in sound when doing so, the protector is most likely inserted properly.
  • Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR) found on hearing protectors are determined in a laboratory setting. Actual noise reduction depends on how it is used (see first bullet).
  • “Double” hearing protection through the use of ear canal inserts and the addition of ear muffs does not provide “double” the attenuation.
    • When both types are worn properly, the addition of muffs only adds about 5 dB of protection (for more information see http://www.caohc.org/)

Here’s the other thing

I have no excuse for plugging my ears with my fingers. I knew it was wrong. Procedures aren’t exactly negotiable in the military (as long as you didn’t get caught). I even knew that it hurt. But understanding risk isn’t always intuitive. I had no idea that a few seconds every day could cause permanent damage. Now that I know, it’s easy to say my actions were dumb. That goes for any stupid action by anyone, really.

But next time you start down that path just take a moment and consider how many times you’ve knowingly taken a risk, lost on that bet, and then thought “well that was dumb.” Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com

Park Backward… Or Else: How to Incite Maliciously Compliant Safety

Read and heed if you want to avoid death threats

Everyone who’s worked on a construction site has met the iron-fisted superintendent in this story (figuratively at least, I’m sorry if you’ve ever met the real guy). We’ll call him… Craig. Just like the villain in some of my previous posts. My apologies to any nice guys named Craig.

Anyhoo Craig, as you can imagine, was a special kind of awful. He was tall, massively built, and intimidating. But only in a physical sense. Intellectually he was a rather small man. His authority was borne only from the fear of being walked out the gate should you test him.

He and I didn’t cross paths much because I worked on the operational part of that particular plant. His crew was in the commissioning phase of the project and due to mobilize out within a year or so. I mostly just rolled my eyes whenever I happened upon him belittling someone or making some stupid, arbitrarily rule. Seldom did his reign of terror affect my team.

Until one day…

Craig’s administrative assistant was walking in the parking lot (looking at her phone), when a car reversed out of it’s spot. You guys, she totally, almost, DIED! According to her. To be fair, I didn’t see it happen, but I imagine it was not the near death experience it was made out to be.

Over the next several weeks parking lot safety was the thing. There were reports of similar occurrences and a band of do-gooders rallied for change before someone was killt (not the garment). Then came the all too familiar “solution” when one of Craig’s henchmen suggested that “people always back into parking spots” where he came from (which may as well have been Narnia as far as I’m concerned).

So parking backward (backing in) became policy… lest ye be written up. It was one of those perfect examples of trying to eliminate a hazard by creating more. Because, to put it lightly, we SUCKED at parking backward. What had been a relatively calm patch of dirt with rows marked by railroad ties became a thunder-dome of horns, thirty-point turns, and screeching brakes.

So Craig did exactly what you’d expect he’d do

He doubled down. And I don’t mean just a little. The backward parking remained and a new requirement was added. Beginning one Monday at 5 PM, only one row of cars was released at a time. It started the at the front of the lot (at least that part was fair considering they got there first) and went row by row. After one day of it union grievances began flooding in for all of the unpaid time people sat parked in their cars after they had clocked out.

That’s where I got tied up in the mess. And I don’t regret it one bit… because it was hilarious. At the time, I was making a series of safety videos for the operations team. With my manager’s permission, Craig sequestered my services to film the exodus. His intent was to dismiss the grievances, but it had exactly the opposite affect.

I perched myself on top of a tower overlooking the parking lot with enough time to capture the guards take their places. At quitting time, the herd rushed out in a flurry of middle fingers and foul language as Craig stood on a balcony just below me. I was too far up to be noticed, but even if anyone saw me I don’t think they cared. They all wanted to murder Craig. No one was shy about voicing that desire either.

In the end money won

Craig lost his grievances with the union. Apparently my two-hour video of cars waiting to leave a parking lot was not proof of fair treatment. The backing rule was never “officially” reversed, but it was never enforced again. Soon no one remembered. But safety took a huge nosedive in those final months of the construction phase. It was something the workforce had to do, not something they wanted to.

I’ve stated many times before that legal compliance and people safety are two distinctly different objectives. Craig was a perfect case study for that. Compliance is required… no one’s arguing that. But OSHA isn’t what keeps the average worker awake at night. Having a life is. Figure out what that life is about, invest some time in teaching them why safety will make it possible, and help them understand when risk is unacceptable. That’s how real safety works.

As an added bonus, far fewer people will want to punch you in the throat.

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com

I’ve Been Using My Mouse Wrong For A Year

OK, so, I’m an ergonomic nightmare

I type all of these blog posts (and my entire BOOK) with my tiny little Samsung laptop perched on my knees while I sit in my recliner. That may sound like I’m a typical American, but as an Ergonomist (a CPE no less) told me not long ago, “you’re way too broad to be typing on a tiny little keyboard.” Since she alerted me to that fact my body has been screaming at me to do better. It’s amazing what a little knowledge will do for body awareness (and shoulder pain).

At work, I was able to solve the problem pretty simply. I bought a nifty little split keyboard and purchased an Ergotron attachment for my desk without batting an eyelash. BUT…

At home, I still sit in my recliner every night with my laptop. I’ll be honest, that probably won’t change. So, tonight, I decided to fix what I could. Mainly because I can’t figure out how to put a split keyboard on my lap.

The dongle cuts into my leg

OK, so picture this. Some nights when I get sick of looking down at my screen, I put my knees up and squeeze my laptop (gently) between my legs. This raises the computer up just slightly. When I do it, the USB receiver I have plugged into my laptop to connect my mouse digs into my left leg right above my knee.

Since I have a high tolerance for pain, I endure the hardship (I know, cry me a river). That is to say, I did endure the hardship. Until tonight… when I finally decided to connect the mouse via Bluetooth (which is why I bought the damn thing in the first place).

So, I unplugged the dongle and went to the Bluetooth menu using my touch pad. Inadvertently, I grabbed the (unplugged) mouse and began clicking through the connection process. It took me a second to realize the stupid thing was already f^(#!%@ connected!. Apparently I had done the setup when I first got it, but had connected the receiver out of habit.

Habits are hard to break

I might be old school, but this mouse is the first Bluetooth mouse I’ve ever had. I don’t know when or what prompted me to plug in the receiver, but I have a suspicion (as in I kinda remember doing it) that I did it after the wireless function was in operation.

There are so many ways to learn from this instance, but I want to hone in on one in particular. It occurred to me that my dongle habit (that makes me chuckle) is learned behavior. Since the olden days when corded equipment became obsolete, every wireless device I’ve owned had one. Unfortunately, so did my Bluetooth model, so the habit took precedence.

For me the lesson drifted from there into the workplace (because I love the constant anxiety of critical thinking…). There is a ton of innovation every day made in just about every field. We work to engineer out a problem, only to leave the old “solution” readily available. Look at it like this, if the dongle had been a safety hazard that needed to be done away with (it’s not, but you get my point), why would the manufacturer keep including them with units that use better technology? But we do that all the time with other problems.

If there hadn’t been a receiver with my mouse, I would have spent at least one less year of my life with a frequent divot in my leg just above my knee. That’s something to think about next time you set out to solve a problem.

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com

Safety Positive: Good Stuffs Vol 2

If you’re not learning, you’re dead

Before I started writing this blog, I spent months of sleepless nights writing A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit. What was initially a rant about all of the things I saw wrong with the safety world turned into a journey of self-discovery. I knew that if all I had to offer was gripe about how wrong everything was, it wouldn’t be useful. So, I did my best to bring something of value into the world. When it was done I knew it was worth sharing, but it terrified me.

I thought the ideas would blacklist me. Not because they were radical, but because they didn’t conform. It was a lonely time. In retrospect it was foolhardy, and maybe even a little arrogant to think no one else shared my desire to make this profession better, but that’s where I was. Then the Relentless Safety journey began and I realized there are other voices out there. I also realized that what I had to say was worth saying.

In the words of my editor: “I can’t believe you say some of the things you say. But somebody needs to.”

That’s what this series is about. I’m not going to stop commenting on the state of the profession or challenging us to do better, but I’m not the only one doing it. There are others dedicated to the new view in safety. I want to use what little influence I have to give them the praise they deserve.

The traditional “Safety Man” is a thing of the past. Here’s to those that are actually making workplaces safer.

This week: RedBeard

Nathan Braymen is the founder of isitrecordable.com (wish I had thought of that BTW) and a corporate safety manager who just gets it. He understands that not everyone will see eye to eye, but has a great message about bridging those gaps. He also sees safety practically and says it like it is. Check out his YouTube channel and learn some good stuffs for yourself.

(He’s also a fellow vet, so thanks for your service Nathan!)

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com

Toddler Safety Shortcuts… And Chef Knives

Turn away if you’re not a fan of dark humor

Call me a terrible parent if you want, but I nicknamed my daughter “Lil Stabby” when she was two years old. She hates it. Though she’s got maniacal laughter down to a science, the name actually came from a specific event. It’s not necessarily indicative of her personality (although the jury’s still out).

Though I don’t usually do disclaimers, let me just say she’s actually one of the most kind-hearted humans I’ve been graced to know. The only one who might edge her out in that regard is her older brother. But only because he would sell the dog (and not ask permission first) if it meant donating the money to help someone out. The girl wouldn’t part that easily with her puppy.

She was a very early walker. I attribute that to her intense competitive nature. Since her brother was three years old when she came along, she knew nothing other than the reality that big people stand and use their feet to move around. As an infant, her eyes glowed with rage every time she watched someone do it while she rolled around on the floor. In retaliation she would scream, red-faced and vibrate back and forth in an effort to will herself onto her feet. The result was that she never even crawled. She could just walk one day.

The tenacity continued

Despite the walking, she wasn’t much of a talker. In fact some of my early memories of her first sentences were moments like the time she couldn’t find all of the parts to her favorite cup. She came running out of our small, townhouse kitchen and gawked at me with half of a pink water vessel.

“SHIT,” she exclaimed. “My wid [lid] is gone!” I rolled in laughter at that one because I knew it wasn’t my fault. My favorite swear word starts with “F.”

Then came the nickname

Back then our kitchen was completely cut off from the living room. Since she was the second child, we had relaxed the parental oversight (admit it, you did too if you have more than one). We had taken a page from my mom’s playbook and allowed both of the kids to get into a few unlocked bottom cabinets and play with the Tupperware as they saw fit. It’s a noisy proposition, but if you turn up the volume of the TV, you can usually drown it out and squeak in an episode of Game of Thrones while they’re occupied.

Due to that fact, the noise coming from the kitchen one particular Saturday wasn’t alarming (all parents know that silence is what is actually alarming). I heard some things slam, some others hit the floor, and then I heard… nothing. My ears perked but there were no sounds of pain.

“Daddy!” My eyes slowly drifted from whatever super-important cable show had captured my attention. I turned my head to witness a live-version, female Chucky doll with a 10″ chef’s knife in her hand. She raised it up like Norman Bates in Psycho.

“Heee heeeh ehehehehh,” she cackled. Then it was my turn to say SHIT. I rushed over, grabbed the knife, and then saw her marvelous feat of engineering.

The two year old built FREAKING stairs!

Our knife block had been carefully placed at the furthest corner of the kitchen counter. It was nearly out of reach of my wife (she’s even shorter than me), let alone the kids. But my daughter had desired the shiny, pointy thing so much that she had pulled three drawers out into a pyramid, climbed said pyramid, and retrieved the murder weapon.

To be fair, she didn’t recognize the risk she was dealing with. She sure as hell does now, but that’s not the point. The point is she wanted the shiny thing and she figured out how to make that happen.

I’ll keep this one simple

How often do you imagine that completing work is the “shiny thing” people are after? Everyone has different motivation for getting that work done, but the shiny is the goal. When obstacles are in our way, we build steps around them to get to the prize. Any (or all) of those steps could present risk that the worker isn’t aware of, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about safety. Only that they’re unaware of what is and what isn’t.

The only exception to that I’ve ever seen is if the task that worker is trying to complete is actually to “stabby stabby” someone with a butcher knife (or anything else malicious, but that’s not the norm). In my daughter’s case, we may never know if that was the goal.

So next time you see someone do something really stupid and “risky,” figure out what they’re after. I’m betting it will most likely be successful completion of a task (even if that’s not the result). We need to stop judging the actions of our workers and start looking at the conditions that influenced them. Despite our predisposition to think the worst of people, not everyone is a sociopath with no regard for themselves or others. Most are trying to make an honest living working as hard as they can. Even if they have to build steps into the process that weren’t meant to be there.

Hi. I’m Jason. I’m the author of the book A Practical Guide to the Safety Profession: The Relentless Pursuit from CRC Press. I’m excited to get to share it with you all and hope it will be as valuable a tool to you as it has been to me. There is no other safety book out there like it. That’s not me being arrogant and assuming you’ll love it. You might not. But at least we’ll be able to have a needed conversation about the change needed in the safety profession. It is available now! Email me at Jason@relentlesssafey.com