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This is a safety article i wrote for my company and should be published this fall in a Telecommunications Cooperative Magazine. Hope you all can relate and use it with your employees to beware of the tiger.

"Safety rules are a nuisance. They restrict you from doing what you want to do the way you want to do it." "The person who wrote safety rules must have been an old fuddy-duddy who couldn't stand to see people having fun!" "

What you just read or what you might think about safety rules being annoying are myths. Safety rules were written with human blood. They came from the lessons learned from the mistakes of others. They were written to help save lives.

Early mankind loped around during prehistoric times with no safety rules. But when they noticed an orange, furry animal with black stripes hunting and eating their spouses and children, they certainly must have thought,”That beast is not our friend," which was followed by the realization of”That beast is our enemy!"

Soon came the first safety rule: "Beware of the tiger."

The first safety rule might have included blowing a whistle whenever a tiger was sighted - to make sure other humans knew the enemy was near. People were probably annoyed when they first heard the whistle, because they had to stop whatever they were doing and climb a tree or crawl under a rock. But the tiger soon lost an easy source of food and the human population began to flourish.

Early man quickly concluded that the lion, too, was an enemy and instituted another safety rule and another whistle.

People who were once annoyed at having to run for their lives now realized why they were running. They also realized there were fewer instances that they endured the loss of loved ones.

The tragedy about safety rules is they were slow in being implemented. People had to be eaten by lions and tigers before the rules were set into place.

How much nicer would it have been if our ancestors had been born with an instinct that told them lions and tigers were dangerous? How many lives could have been saved by this knowledge?

Also, how much better would it have been if the person who invented the grinding wheel realized the dangers of the wheel and displayed a big sign over it that said: "Wear goggles when using this machine." But since that isn't the way safer working environments usually happen, countless eye injuries resulted between the invention of the grinding wheel and the hanging of the safety sign.

Most of us know that if you don't wear goggles while operating a weed eater, 99 times out of 100 nothing happens. However, since there is one in a hundred chances that a rock might sling up into your eye, doesn't it make sense to wear goggles? Personal protective equipment (PPE) is not there for the 99 percent of the time when nothing happens - it's there to protect you during the unexpected one percent. It doesn't matter what the laws of probability state, the risk is of losing eyesight is too great.

In applying the prehistoric tiger theory of safety, "the tiger" today is now any event that is potentially dangerous. With this in mind, the best Operational and Personal Risk management rule of thumb is - Do not do anything dumb, dangerous, or different! Under pressure you revert to what you are familiar with, so if you learn to "be aware of the tiger," you react accordingly and this helps prevent mishaps.

Appropriate use of risk management increases the ability of an organization and individuals both to accomplish the vision of ENMR-Plateau. Whether it's installing fiber optics cables, working wireless problems, answering calls as customer service representatives, administration support , dealing with computer programming or just driving home at the end of the day. Never forget "the tiger" roams everywhere in our global jungle, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims.

Finally, any form of deviation or complacency in your life is usually the weak link in the accident sequence. With continued growth and expansion at ENMR-Plateau, every individual is affected everyday. Our job as professionals is to pre-plan contingencies, call safety time-outs and do the right thing at the right time. This enables the enforcement of safety rules so the accident chain-of-events can be broken. The last thing anyone wants to face is not being prepared or having inadequate resources to perform your daily job.

ENMR-Plateau needs everyone's unique talents to make the mission happen. The person who gains the most by following any safety rule is you! Don't let "the tiger" get you. "Beware of the tiger!"

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Comment by Darren F. Billesbach on February 23, 2009 at 2:21am
Hey Ken.. nice article. We as Safety Professionals need to put the different "spins" on the safety story.. to get our point across. I am sure you will reach some people with it. If our teachings and articles can save one person from a life of disability, or death.. we have done our jobs!! Keep up the good work.

Comment by Craig Banning on January 28, 2009 at 12:28pm
I am a little late in finding this but it is very good and makes a good point. Thanks for sharing it.
Comment by Ken Oswald on October 17, 2008 at 9:40am
Yes i created it and tried to tailor it to something everyone in my company could relate to. I hope you enjoy it and please share it with your employees. It is all about safety awareness and accident prevention.
Comment by Jess Morris on October 16, 2008 at 9:59pm
Did you create the "Beware of the Tiger?" It's a great comparison.
Comment by Chris Miller on September 11, 2008 at 5:45pm
The title sure got my attention!
(the story sure is cool too!~)
Comment by Ken Oswald on August 25, 2008 at 2:28pm
Very true, i have talked with other safety professionals trying to find the perfect safety balance to keep employees safe in all aspects, increase their awareness and good habits, while not letting them get the complacency bug or micro managed by supervisors going overboard. I think you have to stay active to try and maintain the safety balance.
Comment by Safetyguy08 on August 25, 2008 at 2:18pm
Catchy title gets the attention. It takes safety rules and regulations back down to the basic level that helps us realize better why they are needed.
The flip-side, however, is probably what the quoted person was reacting to, namely the over-regulation and over-protection that makes it almost impossible to do your job. I recently saw a city employee using a weed-wacker who was wearing a hard hat, leather gloves, knee pads, steel toed boots, a face shield and a thick carhartt coat to work. It was in the high 80s and the poor guy was probably dying in the heat. He was probably safe but he could probably have done without THAT much protection. One can't help but wonder about the boss or safety committee that made the rules for PPE for this poor guy.

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