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Workplace Safety


By June 1, 2009No Comments

On the jobsite, most of us want to complete our work in the shortest amount of time possible. Of course, it’s always great to find new ways to finish your daily tasks at rapid speed. Unfortunately, too many workers sacrifice safety simply so they can wrap up their day more quickly.

When we were children, we often took shortcuts because we just weren’t patient enough to take the extra time to do things the safe way. For example, instead of walking all the way around a yard to get to the gate, a kid might decide to jump the fence instead. This obviously isn’t the safest choice, but the kid decides he’d rather take the risk so he can get where he’s going more quickly and with the least amount of effort.

Even after we reach adulthood, many of us continue to think and act this way. For example, we might decide to cross the street in a high-traffic area instead of taking 30 more seconds to walk down a block to the crosswalk. Crossing a busy street is a dangerous (and illegal) shortcut — but we do it either to save time or because we’re just lazy.

The lesson here is that the shortest or quickest way to accomplish a task is not always the safest way. Generally, the safe way of completing something takes more time and effort. In other words, there are no shortcuts to safety.

Just think about these scenarios:

  • An electrician named John is up on a ladder finishing up a job. He needs to reach a part of the ceiling that’s about four feet to his right to connect one last wire before he’s done for the day. Instead of climbing down, shifting the ladder to the spot where he needs to work and then climbing back up, he decides to take a shortcut to save some time. He stretches his arm as far to the right as he can reach to grab onto the wire. As he reaches over, he loses his balance. He slips and tumbles to the concrete floor below, and the ladder falls on top of him, badly cutting his head. He spends the rest of the night in the ER and ends up with 30 stitches in his forehead.
  • Stacy’s boss asks her to finish up her day chipping some concrete. Stacy isn’t sure where the safety goggles are located, and she doesn’t feel like hunting them down. She knows the job will only take her about an hour, so she gets to work so she can wrap up her day early. As she’s chipping away, a fragment of concrete flies through the air, hits her in the eye and scratches her cornea. Stacy temporarily loses visibility in her right eye and is forced to take two weeks off from work to recover.

Both of these workers knew they were putting themselves at risk by taking these shortcuts. However, they both convinced themselves it was worth the risk because they were in a hurry and ready to get home. In the end, they both ended up hurt — and they actually lost more time than they gained.

When you take shortcuts on the job, you might be able to avoid danger most of the time. But every time you make an unsafe choice to save time, you’re rolling the dice. If you keep taking these gambles, one of these days you’re going to lose. That’s why you should never take shortcuts on the job. It’s always worth a little extra time and effort to do things the right way and the safe way.