You Snooze, You Lose…

“Growing up in Namibia, I spent many of my holidays on my grandparents farm, which is in an arid area of the country. There was no electricity and every drop of water had to be pumped from a borehole. This didn’t worry my grandfather in the least.

Regardless of the season, he was up every morning before sunrise when the old cuckoo clock struck four, and was then in the kitchen making coffee. After this he headed out to attend the work of the day.

He didn’t press a “snooze” button. In fact, I doubt he ever set an alarm clock. His motto was:

“today, not tomorrow”.

He knew that when it was time to plough, that’s what had to be done, because the rains don’t have a snooze button. The same went for the cows. When they came into the kraal in the early morning, it was milking time. No hitting the snooze button.

The snooze button is an invention which encourages the poor habit of delaying unavoidable action.

Pressing the snooze button buys one a few extra minutes sleep, but doesn’t make a difference in the long run.

Instead of hitting the ground running, we fall prey to this folly of delayed action, which often results in things taking longer. Every time we choose “I-can-do-that-later”, we waste time picking up the thread and re-focusing.

In terms of safety, there are a number of examples. Two of these are OPPORTUNITY and RISK. Opportunity normally has a short time frame and if you press snooze, in most cases, you will lose out. The expression, “there will always be another opportunity”, is the language of losers.

The same goes for risk. Once it has been identified, it must be dealt with, because a risky situation cannot be put on hold. Actually, if swift action is not taken, an even bigger risk might be created by breeding complacency.”

Jurgen Tietz, diretor: eKhuluma and Disruptive Safety.
Source: SHEQ Management, Issue 1 2018.

Tip of the Month- 2. Health & Safety Rule

Think before you start work- Know the risks!

Understanding what can harm you is half the battle. Your manager is required to undertake a risk assessment of your workplace to determine this and should be briefing you on the steps you should take to be safe. Circumstances can change so always think about potential risks before you start work.  Its important to remember that health and safety is about risk management not risk aversion; its about taking sensible precautions not bureaucratic back covering; and fundamentally its about saving lives not stopping people living.

Risk Management

General Safety- Carelessness

Have you ever done anything silly, something that you know puts you at increased risk of injury? When you realised how silly you were, whether you got hurt or not, did you ask yourself “why did I ever do that?”.

For your own preservation, this should be a very important question for you to answer yourself. Consider the fact that approximately 20% of injuries are due to unsafe conditions and 80% are caused by unsafe acts.

Why did you do something in an unsafe manner? To answer this question, you will need to put personal defences aside and know that blame may lie within yourself. Also realise that there may be more than one reason for your actions and others may be involved.

If you knew the proper and safe way to do the job, then you cannot claim ignorance. What is left, whether you like it or not, is carelessness. So what can cause you to temporarily disregard your own safety?

  1. External Pressure“Let’s get this job done!” Usually this pressure comes from your direct supervisor. Disregarding safe practices is not going to save enough time to make a significant difference. However, any accident or injury is guaranteed to have an effect. As a matter of fact, when the pressure is applied, it is worthwhile to pay more attention to safety because we know, from experience, such situations frequently lead to more accidents.
  2. Bad Habits– You fail to follow the established procedure and you don’t get hurt (or you were not caught) this time. Psychologically, this is a reward and so you do it again and again and again. But it is also Russian roulette. How many times can you pull the trigger before a round is in the chamber? You know, sooner or later, something is going to happen! There is only one way to stop it- stop pulling the trigger. Do yourself a favour and follow the established procedures.
  3. Internal Pressure– There is just so much to do and not enough time! Are you self- motivated and self- directed? Most employers love this type of individual, but your single-minded determination to get the job done may cause you to lose sight of the dangers around you. Think of it this way, you will not finish the job if you get hurt. You may finish the job if you don’t get hurt. Therefore, first, prevent injury. Second, work to complete the job.
  4. Attitude“This safety stuff doesn’t apply to me!” So what makes you so special? A study of mine accidents involving foremen showed that the foremen were injured when they personally failed to apply the safety standards they were to enforce. Did the fact that they were foremen protect them from injury? No. Humans are humans. Rich or poor, Black or white, men or women, strong or weak. There is nothing in your status that will protect you from injury except following the safe procedure.

Remember, Safety is no more than doing the job the right way, every day.