EHS OutLoud Blog

Safety Basics: Music to My Ears

music_3.jpgA few weeks ago, I visited a small music shop here in Southern California called “Singer Music.” It wasn’t just a clever name. The Singer family has owned and operated this business for over 30 years, which is pretty impressive considering our current economic state.

So how did they do it? A great business plan and savvy business decisions, sure. Long hours, hard work and perhaps some sleepless nights. And while these attributes are important, I also like to think the Singers’ success can be attributed to how they stick to the basics by providing reliable, friendly service that results in positive customer relations. Keep your clientele happy and they’ll spread the word and keep coming back.

That seemed pretty simple to me, so I started thinking about the most basic purposes of occupational safety.

If you are involved with any part of safety in the workplace, you must adjust to constant changes. Over the past few years, OSHA has made a number of revisions to standards, including crane operations, PPE, hazard communications and electrical safety, just to name a few. Each change is backed by safety committees, numerous studies and surveys. All of these revisions are deemed necessary, and I tend to agree with most of them, even if safety updates can sometimes be a little confusing or time consuming.

But let’s put aside the “safety merry-go-round” for a moment and not lose sight of the basic goal of workplace safety: Returning home at the end of the day to your family and friends in one piece … or returning home at all.

Back to the Basics

I worked with a guy a few years ago who would be more than happy to testify the importance of going home at the end of your shift. He was climbing an interior access ladder in a warehouse to service the HVAC units on the roof – something he had done numerous times. When he reached the roof hatch, he unhooked the latch and locked it in place. As he started to ascend through the hatch, the lock gave way and slammed down, causing him to duck, let go of the ladder and fall 18 feet to the concrete floor below.

The bad news is he suffered multiple breaks in his right arm and sustained a pretty significant back injury. The good news is he suffered multiple breaks in his right arm and sustained a pretty significant back injury. He was lucky. A couple of surgeries fixed his arm and almost a year of not working helped allow the back injury to recover.

After the dust settled, I sat down with him and discussed what, exactly, happened. He has a wife and two little girls, so his emotions were pretty evident during our recap of the incident, but he said something interesting. He told me that the bottom line is he forgot to stick to the basic safety procedures that he had been trained multiple times on.

As safety professionals, we are charged with the responsibility of training and making our employees aware of all relevant safety changes, revisions and updates. Sometimes we might find ourselves getting caught up in the hype of the new standards, but we should always return to the basic principle of safety, which is sending everyone home at the end of the day. That might sound overly simplistic or cliché, but it’s true.

So go to work. Help protect yourself and coworkers from injury (or worse). Make some money. Head home to your family and friends. And who knows? Maybe take up a new hobby. I hear learning to play a musical instrument is a good one.

Guest blogger Aaron J. Morrow, CHST, works as a project HSE manager and is a safety consultant, an OSHA 500 trainer, a Cal/OSHA 5109 trainer and a construction risk insurance specialist.

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