Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Moment of Safety

A moment of safety before beginning any task at home or work should be as natural as a moment of silence or a moment of prayer. Many of us remember to say a prayer or thank the one who prepared the food before each meal without any trigger other than sitting down to the table. We didn’t embed that habit overnight. As with any habit, bad or good, it took some repetitive training. In the case of the prayer before the meal perhaps our family injected the habit or even we forced it on our own until it became natural. We should build a similar habit into our every task or routine at both home and work.

When you approach any task do you pause a moment and take a look around? I’m not talking about a full 30 minutes or even 15 minutes doing a thorough inventory unless, of course, that is a job requirement. I’m talking about taking a couple of minutes to look around and see what might look different. Now the first couple of times you take inventory you may take a little longer to look and ask what might cause a problem in the task. But, as the job becomes more routine you will become used to what is normal and then be able to quickly identify what could happen.

Let’s look at some examples of this “moment of safety.” In the summer you may have a weekly habit of mowing your yard. Take a moment and look around the yard to see what might be in the way or cause a problem. Are there any children’s toys in the yard? Did somebody leave a rope laying out in the yard? I do hope you take a moment and check the oil in the mower and you probably take a peak at the gas level. Is there something else to see on the mower? Are the blades damaged? Are all the safety features in place? Do you have hearing protection?

Another example might be a floor or wall repair. You already have all the materials and tools you need. Are the tools in good repair? Do you have the proper protection such as goggles or gloves? Are there any hidden hazards a saw, nail, or screw may hit such as an electric line? Do you have somebody else around the house to contact if there is a problem?

Finally we look at the task that most of us see most repetitive and are not likely to use a moment of safety, your job. Does your workstation or area look any different than when you left it? Are all the devices you use in safe condition? Look for frayed electric cords, tripping hazards, new pinch points, or some place you may scrape your body. Do you know a safe route of escape if something goes wrong? Look towards your escape route and see if it is clear. What changed while you were away?
Take that moment and look around. It is short, quick, and most likely unnoticeable by anyone else. But that moment may be the most important moment of your life or even someone else’s life. It can be the one moment that takes the big negative life changing event out of your life or at least softens the blow. If that deterred event comes to pass not only will you be thankful, but both your family and employer will be thankful. Start the habit today. Take a moment for safety.