Sandy Says: More Time, Please

Sept. 24, 2013
As the saying goes, no one asks for more money on their deathbed. They ask for more time.

I recently wished out loud for one of two things: that I didn't need to sleep more than 2 hours in a 24-hour period OR that a day had 30 hours. In other words, I need more time!

Time is a commodity in our world: We "make time," "take time," long for "quality time," "run out of time," "pass time," "waste time," "manage time" and "kill time," all in the hope of "spending time wisely."

I've come to the realization that not only can't I do everything, I'm not always doing right by the projects to which I'm already committed because I'm not spending enough time on them. 

This became evident to me at work a couple of weeks ago, when the subject line of a newsletter didn't match the first article – or any article, for that matter – in the newsletter. Normally, that wouldn't be a huge deal, except that the first article was about a large OSHA fine and I put the name of a DIFFERENT COMPANY in the subject line of the newsletter! 

That is a huge deal and a fairly serious mistake in my biz. It's a hang-my-head-in-shame moment.

As a result, I rededicated myself to not only "taking the time" to do a task right, but also to "making the time" to double-check my work. After all, correcting mistakes is not a "good use of my time."

The truth is, no one makes a mistake because he or she took the time to plan or do the job correctly. All of us have made mistakes because we didn't take the time to plan. 

Fortunately, in my job, no one died because I didn't take the time to proof my work. But that's not the case in other industries.

There's a reason why the phrase "time is money" became so popular. Faster production equals more goods being produced by the same number of employees (or, in the case with many U.S. workplaces, fewer employees) in the same amount of time. There's no shame in that; it's called being competitive in a very competitive world. Where there is shame is when safety is sacrificed to production (time). 

For a while, we saw a lot of workplace injuries and fatalities that only could have resulted from processes that did not allow employees the time to do their jobs in a safe manner and employers who did not provide enough time for planning and education. We still do see that at some companies, but more and more, I'm hearing CEOs who are willing to stop work – take time – in order to fix something that's broken, remind employees to be safe or examine what went wrong in their process to eliminate the possibility of it reoccurring.

As the CEO of one of the 2013 America's Safest Companies told us in the application: "As a company, we do not allow excuses for working unsafely. If the right tool or equipment is not available to work safely, the work will be put on hold until the tool or equipment is available. Employees who believe [that] their own safety or the safety of their co-workers is in jeopardy are empowered to invoke a Stop Work Authority until the issues are addressed."

This particular multi-billion-dollar company has nearly 10,000 employees in facilities around the world. Its lost-time injury and illness rates are 25-32 times lower than the industry averages for its primary NAICS codes. And the company takes the time to do it right, said the CEO, because "safety is good business."

Good times.

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