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Second is a placement. The first loser. Not “Number One.” Second is also a moment of time; a measurement of life spent as the clock hands spin and the calendar flips.

Now think about safety. Is it the absence of an accident, injury or is it something more? If safety is simply doing things right, why do so many people continue to do things wrong? I believe safety is an active mindset. Safety can be engineered. Safety can be taught. Safety is led and it allows you to go home at night. Safety makes a task repeatable. If you work safely today, you can come back tomorrow and have another safe day. These days string together to make a safe week, month, year; a safe career.

Make no mistake though. Safety doesn’t imply you have a guarantee. Things can – and do – happen. Many times, safety is taken for granted. Risks are taken like talking on the phone while driving, speeding, skipping the lockout, climbing improperly, or simply leaving a tripping trail behind consisting of cords, tools, toys, and even clothes.

There are times when we see problems yet we don’t address them or point them out. After a while it just becomes part of the background. The unsafe normal that we acknowledge with a “just be careful.” That’s what I call “slow danger.” It’s like the fable about boiling a frog. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will instantly leap out. But if you put it in a pot filled with pleasantly tepid water and gradually heat it, the frog will remain in the water until it boils to death. Slow danger can lead to great danger!

Similarly, when we take a risk and nothing happens we may take another risk and another. Following the lines of the fable, the water is getting hotter and we don’t move. At some point we find we can’t move, we are cooked. When we see a hazard and nothing bad has happened (yet) we step over it or around it like a copperhead snake on a hiking trail. But eventually someone is going to get hit, get bit. Get rid of the hazards. Move it. Mark it. Cone it. Do whatever it takes!

Safety Second
Often it takes a second (or maybe a few seconds) to identify and correct a hazard. Ease off the bumper of the car in front of you. G.O.A.L. (Get Out And Look). Perform your lockout. Put on your safety gear or simply tell someone about an issue so it can be addressed.

Put safety first; give it a second.

I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes, “Working safely may get old, but so do those that practice it.” – unknown


Submitted by Ken Waegerle, Corporate EHS Manager with Chandler Concrete Co., Inc.