Safety Only Works If You Do
May 6, 2019 •Phil Price
In a society of ever-increasing rules, we tend to lean on the bureaucracies that create the regulations to support us. However, it’s important to understand that rules aren’t what truly keep us safe. At the end of the day, safety only occurs when we take an actionable stance on being safe. Reading endless OSHA recommendations doesn’t make us one whit safer until we actually take responsibility for our own actions. Having a hard hat and safety glasses is good practice, however, being aware of your environment is the true first line of protection. By never putting yourself in harm’s way, you will not need to utilize the protection afforded by the safety systems. Counting on safety rules and regulations is a passive approach, much like playing defense in a game without ever scoring. It’s solid offense that carries the ball and wins games, and it’s a proactive stance on safety that will ensure your safety. All too often, I see people relying on some process or electronic gizmo to protect them, when the reality is that no process can be counted on to be foolproof.
Take backup alarms, for example. Those obnoxious noisemakers are widely accepted because they are labeled as “safety measures.” The fact is, other countries have determined through careful research that these old-school alarms do not work as an effective warning because they produce a directionless sound. These countries have banned the old alarms and instituted new ones that more accurately indicate the moving vehicle in question. Until that day comes stateside, we need to be aware that the vehicle we see is not necessarily the one we hear, and a generic beeping sound doesn’t guarantee safety. Drivers can’t think they’re secure because their vehicle is making noise, and people nearby can’t bank on the idea that they’ll register a vehicle alarm before they’re in harm’s way. Unfortunately, I lost a friend in this very scenario, which could have been altogether avoided.
Another example of safety measures that can only provide protection as far as you allow them are hard hats. People wearing them often experience a false sense of security, thinking the hat on their head makes them untouchable. I have noticed people in hard hats completely oblivious to their surroundings on job sites, simply because they trusted their gear. At the end of the day, a piece of plastic cannot protect from all potential dangers. Items slip from scaffolds and manlifts frequently, and a falling object becomes a small missile if dropped from a great height.
No safety system or list of steps can protect the unwary. Always stay alert, and keep your eyes and ears focused out there.
To learn more about how Franklin Energy is living out our safety culture, contact us today.