My wife calls me a centipede because I have so many shoes down by the door. I take the criticism on the chin since she’s absolutely right, but each pair of shoes seems to have its own purpose. As I walked down the hall I saw one of my co-workers sporting a pair of sandals which seems a little odd for work, especially since its 15 below outside. At one of my presentations it was very frosty outside and most of my attendees had the warmest looking winter boots I’ve ever seen. Is your footwear appropriate for your situation? Is it keeping you safe? One of the top safety hazards in nearly every line of work is slips, trips and falls. That safety starts with our selection of shoes.
I’m not sure if you’re growing weary of my “growing up” type stories, but I have one more for you. I guess I would be about 15 years old by this time and my brother and I were working for my Dad’s Construction Company. This was at the outset of his demolition days and the target was the local grain elevator. We collected great amounts of rough lumber as the elevator was being taken down and it was time to harvest the wood. All of the nails needed to be removed. This may sound like a very monotonous job, but there was a sense of accomplishment as the unorganized entanglement of lumber became nicely stacked two by fours.
This process had gone on for many days and we were fairly skilled at removing the three and a half inch spikes. I just finished stacking a two by four and as I went to grab another one I stepped on a nail sticking out of another board. This wouldn’t present a problem with proper footwear, but my work boots didn’t have a steel shank or steel toes. I felt the nail go right into the bottom of my foot. I immediately yelled out “Ahh … I stepped on a nail!” I couldn’t lift my foot off the board since the nail was stuck in my foot and in the sole of my work boots. My brother was right beside me, but he non-chalantly said “Yeah, hurts doesn’t it”. “Does it ever! Do you think you can help me?”, I replied. With a lot more urgency I added, “I can’t get my foot off the nail!” He replied, “Oh right now?”
I got my brother to stand on the other side of the two by four and pulled my foot off the nail. Immediately my sock and work boot filled with blood … apparently I had pinpoint accuracy on where not to step. The nail didn’t go right through my foot, but was in the arch area and apparently punctured the vein. I got to the house and got cleaned up, then went to the hospital to update my tetanus shot. Later that month I had a brand new pair of work boots, this time with steel toes and a steel shank.
A while back Dad was telling me he took two 45 Gallon drums full of nails to the scrap yard. After more than 30 years I guess that nail is finally getting re-used
Is your footwear and clothing appropriate for the job you are doing? Is it appropriate for the elements you are facing? What about the rest of your PPE?
I have been very fortunate to live a life of abundant blessing. I have been blessed with a great family and many friends. I have been blessed with good jobs, a nice home and an awesome country to live in. It’s not that everything’s always “comin’ up roses”, but I do have a lot to be thankful for.
This year I’ve had the privilege to speak to over 3,000 people in Saskatchewan with a message that I deliver passionately because I believe in it so strongly. I’ve been blessed with this opportunity and responsibility. I have always had a passion for public speaking and can recall a conversation with my wife over 7 years ago about my ideal job. I told her if there was a way could speak to 100 or 200 people everyday, now that would be a job I would enjoy. My problem was I didn’t know what I would say. What use would it be to fill everyone’s ears with something that made no difference?
Fast forward to November 2008, I was only in the hospital for a week after my injury, but I recall those days of immense pain and the thoughts jumbled in my head about how I could use my injury to help others. In the months that followed, this dream continued to grow as I suffered through different disappointments and failures. I was very focused on my recovery, which included some intense therapy to rehabilitate my hand. I remember having a meeting with my manager three months after my injury and letting her know that when I came back to work I would be pursuing speaking opportunities and I hoped that would work alright alongside my job. After the meeting I thought about how that must’ve sounded … she must have thought I was a wing nut or that there was more than just a little nerve damage in my hand and that somehow my brain was impacted.
I had a number of conversations with the principal and a teacher at my children’s school and that ended up being the first stop of my speaking career. It was only six months after my injury, I had just started back to work part-time, but I recall feeling so driven to come to the school and share. I spoke to the grade nine students about the high injury rate of young workers and didn’t “show my hand” until the last 10 minutes of the presentation. As the classroom let out a collective gasp, their shock and reaction ended up bringing me to tears. I intended to make the presentation impacting, but never considered it would impact me.
That day was very fulfilling and marked the start of a brand new journey. Realizing I have been given an opportunity to impact people in a positive way has become an awesome responsibility and something I take immense pride and satisfaction in. I hope you don’t see this as being smug or boastful, but I truly feel that I’ve found my purpose. A big part of that purpose is being willing to be open about struggles and difficulties and helping people navigate through similar situations they have encountered.
Do you have blessings that you could share with others? Is someone you know going through some turmoil that you’ve already encountered? Why not pass along your blessings and “lend a hand”? Happy Thanksgiving!
They caught my attention because I could hear them enjoying their day just outside my window. There was three of them working together sharing a little camaraderie as they soaked up the sunshine. I admired their work and the fact they were working away without a care in the world. Their work was efficient and precise; I couldn’t help but think how much better they were doing than I would. I’m not sure how long they worked at their trade, but there were a number of other people admiring their job as well. In fact, they had an area sectioned off just so a crowd wouldn’t grow and potentially be adversely impacted by their work.
I don’t think their work is too difficult, but it’s clear to see they took pride in what they were doing and all the on-lookers could easily see the skills they were brandishing. One thing is for certain, it takes someone with a unique skill set to even apply for a job like this. I know that might sound a little contradictory, but as I said they were right out my window, in fact, they were washing my window … on the seventeenth floor.
I had the chance to go down and talk to their boss about the exceptional job they were doing and about how they seemed to be having a good time. From the ground level I was marveling at how high that was and how comfortable they were working at that height. Their boss confided in me that being a high-rise window washer takes a special kind of person.Most of us aren’t hanging out on the 17th story, but I would venture to guess all of us will, at times, approach a common daily task without regard to the present danger. Inattention or disregard to hazards can prove to be dangerous or even fatal. Sometimes we get a little cocky with safety and our attitude says “It won’t happen to me”. Kind of like a boxer letting down his guard or even going out of his way to taunt his opponent. Sooner or later that tactic will fail and the results will be devastating, just ask Anderson Silva.
My window washer friends were following the safety protocols they have established, are you? Or are you leaving your chin out there waiting for the next haymaker?
I’m sitting at the airport waiting for my flight. It’s almost impossible to focus because there is so much activity, but I needed to stop everything and write this down while I remember. The announcements, so many announcements … they’ve got me in a state of wonder. I’m wondering why do people wait so long before they show up at the airport? Why do they cut their time so close? Why are people programmed this way?
I’m always talking about cutting corners and the last 2 flights have had 3 people that were on their last warning before the flight left. These people had their names said over the speakers at least 3 times before that final warning. They got the benefit of:
Now pre boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton for people requiring assistance
Now boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton for preferred passengers
Now boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton for passengers in the last 10 rows of the airplane
Now boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton for all remaining passengers
Final call for boarding flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton
Once again final boarding call for flight 233 at Gate 27 to Edmonton would passengers Ian McCall, Jennifer Tremblay & Donald Cerrone please report to gate 27 for boarding flight 233 to Edmonton.
Would passenger Ian McCall please report to gate 27 for boarding flight 233 to Edmonton. The plane is ready to go.
Final call for Ian McCall at gate 27 for boarding flight 233 to Edmonton.
… Finally I see someone rushing to gate 27 … now I know who Ian McCall is (Don’t bother googling Ian I’ve altered his name to conceal his real identity).
That’s 8 times Ian was called, 3 times by name. What up? This sounds a little ludicrous, but trust me it is real. What causes people to do this? What causes people not to heed warnings? Somehow their own agenda simply trumps the agenda of the person issuing the warning. They aren’t tuned in, they’re oblivious. This is similar to the odd urinal scenario. These people comprise the 20% of the people that cause 80% of the effort for the airlines.
Oddly enough we continue to cater to the Ian’s and they just don’t seem to learn. We reaffirm that they are that important, that they have the privilege of making the entire plane wait, that they can ignore warnings. We need to continue to try to convince the Ian’s that they need to pay attention, but perhaps it’s time to get their attention in a different manner. Offering positive rewards to the rest of the passengers causes issues when airlines are making small margins on each flight. Negative incentives can also have a financial impact, especially if Ian is a frequent flyer and travels first class, but this may be the only option left. Of course the occasional missed flight brings about it’s own consequence.
When it comes to warnings are there times you’ve been like Ian? Consider the warnings in road construction zones … there’s been a huge increase in the profile Saskatchewan construction zones have been given. Fines have tripled this year, but there still seems to be a lot of people just like Ian ignoring the warnings. These people are stuck in their own agenda … gotta get to where they’re goin’ no time for construction zones. The safety professionals grow weary of this type of disrespect for the warnings. Is there a way you can help people to get the message? Well … I gotta go, my flight is boarding …
At last year’s garage sale I was reminded of the result of not addressing a hazard. This really wasn’t a safety hazard, but actually a security hazard. It was the last couple of hours in our 2-day garage sale and we finally convinced our son to bring his Play Station Portable (PSP) into the garage in order to sell it. It was fairly new piece of technology, but he wasn’t using it much any more so he decided to sell it.
One of the difficult tasks of a garage sale is trying to figure out what to price things at. The PSP was in great shape and he even had 8 games to go with it. I thought he was being very reasonable and priced the PSP and the games at $95. When you sell items at a garage sale you need to be willing to dicker a little and within a half hour he had someone offer him $70 which was just below what he was willing to take … he countered with $80 and his potential sale walked away.
About another half hour later my son said “Hey, my PSP is gone”. He had left the sale for about 15 minutes and in that length of time someone pocketed the most expensive item in our sale. Typically my wife and I were on the driveway trying to help customers and our kids were walking around too. There were only a handful of people at the sale when my son noticed the PSP was missing. Unfortunately, I think the perpetrator was already long gone.
There were many things we felt we could’ve done to ensure this didn’t happen. For starters we should’ve had the PSP under constant supervision … outside, under our noses. All of us had a chance to change the location of the PSP, but no one did. In fact, I had other games inside the garage at the same location prior to the PSP’s introduction into the garage sale. I felt responsible because my son placed the PSP where it made the most sense in relation to the other sale items.
There seem to be a lot of parallels to safety, in fact, my daughter says “Dad, you can relate everything to safety”. Often new regulations are introduced after a serious injury or fatality, but for the person suffering the repercussions of an injury it’s too late to respond after the damage has been done. How often do we say “I should’ve done this, or I should’ve done that? In our scenario if we evaluated the location of the PSP as a hazard we could have easily changed the location, we failed to address the hazard. When new equipment is introduced it makes sense to re-evaluate processes to ensure safety is being considered, we shouldn’t fall back into doing things the same way out of habit.
After reading this blog I think everyone is aware the hazard of shoplifting transcends stores and the shopping mall and even needs to be considered for your garage sale. I also hope I have spurred you to look for potential hazards in your workplace or at home. One of the reasons I speak to many organizations is to heighten the awareness of safety. Although I can’t guarantee my presentation will make your workplace injury free, I know it has a profound impact in helping people realize safety is in their hands and the results of leaving hazards unaddressed can be deadly. Don’t wait until an injury occurs … be proactive and address hazards.
This afternoon it was a beautiful outside so I decided to go for a walk. I was walking downtown Regina and came up to the intersection of Hamilton and 11th, but needed to wait for the walk light. The lady on my right was already standing on the edge of the curb waiting for the light to change. I made my way closer to the curb at the wheelchair ramp. The light changed and the walk light displayed. I took a step into the intersection as a half-ton truck cut me off and rounded the corner making a turn right in front of me, heading toward the pedestrian.
WHOA! I yelled, within inches of the half-ton. The driver slammed her brakes and the lady that was crossing the street jumped back, narrowly avoiding being hit by the truck. The truck continued on its way, but not before a look of shock was shared between the pedestrian and the driver. The pedestrian appeared a little shook up and rightfully so since the front of the truck was a couple feet passed where she was standing when it finally stopped. She insisted she was fine, but credited me for saving her from certain injury. She said the driver stopped and she jumped back because I yelled. Thankfully the driver had her windows down.
I think the driver must’ve been timing the light. She was southbound and the light just turned green. It happened so fast, but I think I did a partial shoulder check (a good safety habit) as I was beginning to walk into the intersection. The motion of the vehicle caught my peripheral vision and thankfully I yelled out right away. I was upset with the driver and she was certainly in the wrong, but I recall a time when I nearly made the same tragic mistake.
I’m so glad that I needed to go out for some fresh air this afternoon. I like to think that my voice on safety is making a difference, today I know for sure that it did. My safety presentation is called “STOP Cutting Corners” and it became clearer than ever how easily people can get HURT when we cut corners. Is there an impending hazard that you need to call out? You’ll be glad you did.
I wrote this blog because it stood in stark contrast to what I tell people as a motivational speaker. I tell people to persevere, to press through adversity, and not to give up. I also talk a lot about perspective and this story may reveal a deeper perspective than I have ever shared. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak in Bethune SK at the interment honouring Maureen Sullivan.
Ode to Maureen
The circumstances were extremely dire … beyond hope. Maureen had cancer throughout her body and her kidneys had quit functioning. She was informed she would need a day of chemo, followed by a day of rest, followed by dialysis, followed by chemotherapy, followed by … well, you get the idea. They obviously couldn’t guarantee the chemo would eradicate the cancer and they were also unsure how long she would live with this approach. Since her kidneys failed she knew she would be on dialysis. She had already gone through the dialysis process and found it consumed her entire day and drained all her energy. The road ahead looked very bleak and the quality of life questionable. At seventy years of age, she made a courageous decision to medicate for the pain, but not to pursue chemo or dialysis.
My wife and I took the opportunity to go visit Maureen in the hospital. Not knowing how she would be, or even knowing what to say. She was in very good spirits, completely lucid and actually concerned for how we would be taken care of at Kedleston Gospel Camp, the camp where she volunteered as registrar for over 30 years. We had a great visit, provided some support for her son and daughter-in-law and prayed that she would be at peace and be able to let go … A week and a half later she passed on.
That may sound like a tragic end, but during that week and a half she had the opportunity to say goodbye to all of her family and many of her friends. She also had the required time to plan out exactly how she wanted her funeral and her assets distributed. The odd thing is she had given up, tapped out, but yet she was full of hope. She had perspective and was so relaxed knowing that she was going home to meet her maker. The pastor commented that in all his years as pastor he never witnessed any one facing death with such grace.
Often we want someone who is ailing to stay with us, to persevere, to fight at all costs. Maureen knew the battle about to ensue and she had a peace that had more to do with her faith than her age. You see Maureen had a hope beyond hope and she knew it was time to go home.
People say hindsight is 20/20. I think the current way to view hindsight is Insight in HD. The images and realities appear so vivid, somehow much clearer and more defined then when they first occurred. The HD image can help intensify feelings of joy, satisfaction, remorse, guilt, shame and regret. The negative image is often so crisp we stay mesmerized by the Instant Replay to the point where the word “instant” is no longer relevant. Is the regret relevant? Why this issue is bothering you so much? If your honest with yourself regret can be a powerful tool with it’s components of reflection and repentance.
Let’s hit pause on the replay loop for a minute, but take a nice clear look at the entire scenario. You can see it from front to back so think about, or even write down what would you do differently if the outcome was not what you anticipated or expected. How can this negative burden be changed? Can it be used for improvement in your life? How about in the life of someone you care about? Often we endure our pains in life alone, but sharing them with someone who is close to you can create learning and understanding for the person you are sharing with and can also help you work through a situation so you’re not stuck in an endless mental replay. In a nutshell this is what I’m encouraging people to do through my “Unleashing the Power of Regret” presentation.
Take the learning from the situation and do two things with it:
1. Apply it to your life moving forward
2. Share that insight with someone else
Let’s not forget hindsight can be used to reflect on positive things too. I can look back on a success and realize it had it had a small and rather meager beginning. Recently I had the awesome opportunity to speak four times for Mosaic at their Belle Plaine Safety Fair, with between 800 to 1,000 attendees. I had a conversation with one of the planners to find out how the initial contact occurred. She informed me that one of the Safety Managers recommended me. I traced back that relationship to a presentation that I did more than two years earlier for the Saskatchewan Mining Association (SMA).
In 2010 I made numerous attempts to contact the SMA and was excited when they called and asked me to speak at one of their safety meetings. I was disheartened when I was informed I would not receive any compensation for coming to speak, but it was a chance to be able to speak to a number of key mining companies in Saskatchewan. I felt the opportunity would be worth coming home a day early from our family ski trip at Panorama BC. I took advantage of the time during the long drive from Invermere, BC to Regina, SK to mentally shorten my one hour presentation to a 30 minute format. I dropped my family off at home and arrived at the meeting a half hour early.
As it turned out that day there was less than half the regular number of attendees for the meeting. To make things worse other portions of the meeting had gone longer than intended and I was the last agenda item before lunch. My half hour presentation narrowed to a 10 minute window of opportunity. I felt like I had an adrenaline crash, I was tired from the drive, and disappointed with the way the scenario was playing out. It had so much potential, but I felt defeated before I started. It seemed the presentation was rushed to the point of incoherence and had very minimal impact. It felt like the worst presentation I’d ever delivered.
At that point I was regretting wasting an opportunity, and lamenting the premature ending of the Panorama vacation with my family. I felt like a failure as a father and a “dud” as a speaker. I learned that I needed to make sure my family is first, not just some lip-service to the idea. I learned that you need to be adaptable, but not to your own detriment. Recently I also learned that even hindsight isn’t 20/20 since some situations may prove to be more positive than you first give them credit for.
The day of the presentation to the SMA I received some very positive feedback from the managers, but it was also the start of a relationship that I have kept in touch over the years. I had no idea that initial failure would turn into such a large opportunity. I have found this to be a pattern, if you use failure as a learning opportunity the failure will fade and the opportunity will remain. Have you got some positive or negative hindsight that you could share with someone in HD? Go for it!
Btw – If you haven’t read it yet, check out John C Maxwell’s book “Failing Forward”, it’s a great read!
You know how it is when you see something and you just know that it’s a bad idea? Kind of like a parent watching your kids and you say “Watch out!” and the child is amazed you predicted they would wipe out. I saw something like that this week. It struck me as odd. It’s almost even odder blogging about it, but it just seemed so out of place. What was it? It was a roll of toilet paper sitting on top of the urinal.
- Why in the world would we need toilet paper at a urinal?
- this seems quite out of place
- the toilet paper should be by the toilet
- no good can come of this.
I kept out of it, finished my task, washed my hands and went on with my day.
Later that day, I returned. Now things had progressed. There was a sheet of toilet paper on the grill of the urinal. What the world? Someone must’ve used it then thrown it into the urinal. This sort of defies logic, since urinals are only designed to flush liquid. Ignoring the situation I finish up, wash my hands, then go on with my day.
That afternoon I returned for a third time which is a result of too much coffee. This time there was an out of order sign on the urinal and I could tell that it had run over. Shocking, how could this have happened? (note the sarcasm) The urinal was out of commission for the following day.
The day after everything was back to normal and all urinal visits weren’t worth blogging about (finally, eh? … adding the accent for my American friends). The following day, however, it was a different story. I went to the urinal and there was a piece of toilet paper in the urinal again. Seeking to be proactive I sought out the cleaning staff and alerted them to this impending failure since I just wasn’t feeling up to rescuing the toilet paper on my own. A half hour later the crisis was averted.
I decided I was sitting on some pretty serious intel so I needed to let the management know why they were having issues with their urinal. It wasn’t a draining issue as they suspected, but rather a user issue. Someone was using the urinal in a manner it was not intended to be used. This was kind of like my use of the table saw on the day of my injury. I was using it in a manner it was never designed for and improper use can have significant consequences.
What other safety lessons can be learned from the urinal scenario? First, if you see something that doesn’t look or feel right, alert others about it or rectify the situation yourself. Second, just because you’re able to see something as an issue don’t assume everyone else will. Third, some people will only learn from their mistakes if they feel the consequences of their decisions … we need to continue to work with people in this category to explain the potential impact of their unsafe decisions. Oh, and remember to wash your hands.
I have a general rule that anything called a widowmaker should be given some respect. I would consider a widowmaker to be the UR of my HURT acronym for Causes of Injuries … an “Unware or Unaddressed Hazard” and “Respect for tool, process & environment”. For a forestry worker a widowmaker is a branch of a tree that remains suspended by other trees. The reason this is so dangerous is you simply don’t know when the suspended tree may fall and often it happens to an unsuspecting forester. According to Wikipedia and the American Society of Agricultural Engineers widowmakers are responsible for 11% of fatal chainsaw injuries.
The following story is an example from the spring of 2008 where I was committing more than one safety infraction at a time. Our house in Regina had a number of spruce trees in the front yard. In fact, there were seven of them all exceeding 40 feet in height. One of the trees was more to the center of the yard and was actually quite healthy and large. The other six were squished together on the edge of our property with only a couple of feet separating them. The tall crowded, gangly looking trees were really more of an eye sore than anything. Once I decided to remove them I thought I might as well get rid of all the evergreens in our front yard.
Growing up I had helped my Dad harvest many trees for his wood stove so I called my parents up and they came into Regina to give me a hand taking these trees down. At one of our previous houses I hired out the removal of some spruce trees and knew you could make the tree limbs into a ladder to scale the tree then topple the top of the tree. We used ropes to ensure the trees fell the way we wanted them to. When I was up in the tree I didn’t actually use a chainsaw, but rather a swiss saw since I felt safer with my precarious positioning. Precarious because I had no fall protection while working at that height … hmm … what could result from falling out of a 40 foot tree?
The middle tree came down without issue then we moved on to the gaudy looking trees that were creating all this work. I needed to use a ladder at the base since the branches weren’t significant enough to hold my weight. Once I got to a certain height I was again able to scale the tree. The first tree came down without incident. I descended as we took section after section of the tree down. Each of the sections would be about 8 feet in length and weighed between 150 to 200 pounds.
True to my previous disposition of “Cutting Corners”, descending and ascending the trees seemed to be extra steps that weren’t required to the process, so after the first tree was down I simply moved from one tree to the next at about the 30’ mark. Once I changed trees the first time subsequent transgressions were much easier to make. I know this is likely a move most of you wouldn’t make, but take a look inward here. Are there tasks you are carrying out that you once considered very dangerous, but now refer to as part of the job? Could these tasks be carried out in another manner that isn’t nearly as dangerous?
Back to the widowmaker … After cutting one of the tree tops it got held up between two of the other trees. Due to my location and inability to secure a rope on the branch we continued onto the next tree, leaving the branch suspended. We had a lot of work to do and thought we would worry about the suspended branch once I worked my way over to its location. While cutting on the next tree one of the branches snapped back up towards me. I didn’t really know what happened, but it was odd to have a branch shooting upward.
When I looked down my Dad was laying face down on the ground underneath the widowmaker.
I yelled down to Dad, “Are you okay?”
He responded an unconvincing “Yeah” as he began to get up.
I inquired, “What happened?”
“Ah … The branch that was caught in the tree fell and hit me in the head and shoulder”, he said as he slowly rubbed his neck and shoulder.
My Dad’s a pretty tough guy, but I needed to come down the tree to do my own assessment. My Dad was fortunate that it was a glancing blow, but just the same it hurt quite a bit and was certainly preventable.
I know some of you are thinking “Man, you’re dangerous … no wonder you eventually got hurt.” The fact is Saskatchewan has twice the hospitalization rate as the rest of Canada so I know my previous lack of safety habits and safety awareness is very common for a lot of people reading this blog. Hindsight provides perfect vision of the impact of a decision … we have to empower that hindsight to become foresight which will assist in future decisions. I hope that by sharing some of my hindsight you will have a chance to reflect your own actions and feel empowered to make a positive change for the sake of your safety and well-being. Do you have a similar story? Can your hindsight provide insight for some of your co-workers?