As I was driving to work recently, I noticed a boy about eight or nine-years-old, his carefree manner evident as he skipped to school. He stopped abruptly at the corner of the street. A perplexed look came across his face. There wasn’t a crossing guard to be found. It was too early for them to be on duty to stop traffic, and there were no teachers to help him cross. He looked left, then right, then left again. He made no movement. You could see it on his face. Hmm... now what? Which way to go? Had his parents taught him to choose safety first?
He could proceed directly across the street facing him or go left and cross the other street, but then he would have to cross yet another street to end up on school property. So many choices. Ever wonder how many choices you make in a typical day?
Each of us begins making choices the very moment we wake up. We start the day by choosing whether to get right up or hit the snooze button and catch a few more minutes of sleep. We choose whether to boil an egg or just pour the milk over the cornflakes. We choose to read this article or just go on to the next one thinking it’s just another safety story.
Most decisions that we make get very little conscious thought. It’s like being on autopilot. We just do what we “feel like” or what we think we “have to do.” If you stop and think about it, how many of our major decisions are also on automatic pilot and made too quickly? How many times have we gotten in our car to drive to work and realized when we arrived that we didn’t remember the trip at all? Scary, isn’t it? It happens, and it’s very real.
Take a moment and consider what happens when we get too busy to make responsible safety choices. Responsible choices affect more than just the people who make them; they affect our friends, our supervisors, our families and yes, your company.
When supervisors or I brief fellow employees on workplace safety measures, we are providing the tools to make informed decisions. We all must take time to listen and hear. Equally, we must take time to read and fully understand our individual responsibilities to make wise and safe choices. If we choose to cut corners – not wear our personal protective equipment or “just do it this one time” – the repercussions can last a lifetime or worse yet, prove fatal. It only takes that one “boneheaded” decision to put a coworker or your own life at risk.
Now, back to my story about the boy crossing the street. An annoyed driver honked trying to rush him to a decision. Ignoring the honking, he carefully looked left, then right, then left again. All cars had stopped. The two lead drivers nodded for him to go ahead and cross. He crossed the street and finished his journey to school. He chose wisely, carefully and safely.
Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands. Please make sure you do the same. Make the right safety choice first.