Unaddressed Hazards


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.

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