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Safety Shortcuts: The Longest Distance Between Two Points

Guest blogger Aaron J. Morrow is a safety consultant, an OSHA 500 trainer, a Cal/OSHA 5109 trainer and a construction risk insurance specialist.

Safety Shortcuts: The Longest Distance Between Two Points

by Aaron J. Morrow

A man by the name of Louis Binstock once said, “Too often the shortcut, the line of least resistance, is responsible for evanescent and unsatisfactory success.” Simply put, taking shortcuts only results in success for a short duration of time.

We're all guilty of taking shortcuts now and again, whether it’s not signaling to change lanes, skipping a step on the stairs or using a chair instead of a ladder to reach something on the top shelf. But in the safety profession, each time you take a shortcut you also risk of cutting your career short by suffering a significant injury – or even death.

Breaking Bad Habits

Most of us develop bad habits of taking the occasional shortcut while working. If this is true for you, break the habit now. Your safety and well-being are far more important to your manager, coworkers and customers -- not to mention your family -- than getting the job done quickly. While your boss may admire and appreciate your conscientious effort to finish the job on time, you won’t be admired if your hasty shortcut results in an injury.

If a rushed job results in an accident, not only could it have an effect on your personal, financial and social life, it also may result in the job taking longer or even coming to a complete stop. How many times have you heard of employees incurring back injuries because it was “faster” to lift the load by themselves instead of asking for help or using a mechanical aid? Or someone falls because he stepped onto the top of the ladder instead of locating another ladder long enough for the job?

We must eliminate this intrinsic need to take shortcuts, but how? Well, we need to allow ourselves enough time to do the job at a safe pace, especially when starting a new job or working in an unfamiliar environment. Just because you’ve done something a “thousand times” doesn’t mean you’re impervious to an accident or injury, so don’t improvise to save time. Going through a daily checklist and having all the proper tools and safety equipment on hand in advance are just a few ways to save time.

It is your responsibility to avoid any potentially dangerous or unsafe job practices. Take the time to lock out/tag out equipment, use fall protection, follow safe ladder procedures and use PPE and the proper tools for the job. This requires planning ahead.

Finally, if you ever feel unsafe working on a job, or feel you cannot do the job safely by yourself, please call your supervisor and/or safety office. It’s a phone call that only takes a second, but it can save your life.

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