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The space between legislation and aggravation

As I look at my career, the biggest benefit I got from manufacturing experience was an understanding of the importance of an individual's capacity to choose. This tool or that tool, this glove or no glove, lock out or don't, wipe the spill or leave it be.
It took me a long time, however, to see that people didn't often own their choices. They assumed that it was management's responsibility to make the environment safe, not to give them the opportunity to work safely in the environment. And legislation doesn't help - at least not all legislation does. Just as you can't save your way to profitability, you can't create enough legislation to make hazards go away. We would no longer be driving cars if that were the case.
Safety professionals work in that space between legislation and common sense. Well, what should be common sense anyway. I can't think of how many reports or investigations I led where those involved all recommended solutions that involved idiot-proofing the problem. A good concept if you have unlimited funds and employ mostly idiots. In one instance I was involved with, I had just lost an argument with a team leader who insisted his team members who already wore beards were grandfathered in their right to keep them in spite of our planned respirator fit rules. In an environment where chlorine was stored in bulk. I told him it was grandfathering their right to suffer and die.
As I read the forum here, I am struck by many advances that have taken place, and yet how far we have to go. I envy those of you who are early in your career journey for the tools and communities you have at your disposal.
Just remember, what used to be called common sense has been replaced by diverse sense. That is a powerful tool as diverse opinions can lead to substantially better solutions. It's also a tough tool to harness. Look past the aggravation of people not recognizing you are trying to bring a greater likelihood of them avoiding injury, and know that you are contributing to solutions that may well eliminate certain injuries.

Tim Gardner
Safer by Choice

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Comment by Brent Armstrong on June 16, 2009 at 2:13am
Hey Tim,
thanks for sharing your thoughts with us at the Online safety Community. I think we should all try and read between the lines, because what you're saying here involves us all in some way or the other. You're saying a lot more than you've written.

Once again, thanks for your insight and keep the contribution to our Online Safety Community coming.
Comment by John Astad on June 11, 2009 at 2:06am
Excellent. Thanks for sharing your helpful insight with us here at the Online Safety Community.

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