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Time for Gratitude

thank you,ke a leboga,ke a leboha,ngiyabonga,ndo livhuwa,ro livhuwa,siyabonga,enkosi,dankie,ngiyathokoza,inkomu

 

As leaders and safety professionals we forget to show GRATITUDE. We are looking in the rearview mirror, focusing on what went wrong, why we missed our targets and, often, who to blame.

At the end of the year, it is time for us to be grateful for what we have and to count our blessings. Think about the number of activities and tasks that are being completed by all your people, without any incident or mishap. They run into the millions. Let me put this into perspective.

The vast majority of these activities are done out of habit (routine), without conscious thought. That is where your training and systems are paying off.

Consider a simple task, like driving a vehicle. I get into the seat (hopefully after walking around the vehicle and doing my pre-start check), fasten my seat belt, check the mirrors, start the engine, switch on the lights, engage the reverse gear, look left and right, release the handbrake, check the mirrors again, apply gas, steer the vehicle to the right and left and turn, apply the brakes and then take a breather — all this just to get out of my driveway at home!

To complete the task of getting to work safely, I will have to perform hundreds of activities such as this and more (using indicators, changing lanes, accelerating, braking, keeping an eye on the traffic, stopping, etc.). Each one of these I accomplish successfully, without incident and without conscious thought, but each one has the potential of leading to an occurrence which could result in damage, an injury, a fatality and, most definitely, lost time.

Now, multiply these hundreds of activities by the tenfold of tasks or jobs that each of your employees completes every day, by the number of employees, contractors and visitors on your site every day, and finally, by the number of working days this year, and you will have to add a large number of zeros to your figure of gratitude.

This also puts into perspective why ZERO HARM is such a tough goal to achieve.

Please count your blessings and let your people know how indebted you are to them for having done so well, as you cannot even express this ratio:

number of incidents and near hits
number of activities completed

Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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Jump Starting at Grootvlei

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean ‘jump starting Grootvlei Power Station’. 😆 Auke Maas, the SHE manager and his team are switched on. I mean jump starting my Harley Davidson motor bike at Grootvlei. Yes, a Harley Davidson, “nogal” (= “on top of it all”), with a reputation of being a super-reliable bike. But let me explain.

I was late for my meeting with Auke and his team  😐  and, in my haste, I forgot to switch off the Harley’s ignition. As a safety feature, the main light is always on when the ignition is switched on. So, when I left the meeting, I proudly started, er, rephrase, tried to start the bike, because Auke, Arno and Peter wanted to hear the engine. NOTHING. Not a click.  😳 The battery was DEAD.

There I stood, far from home and miles from a service station.

Fortunately, I had the support of the Grootvlei team and, with the help of Arno, who got some tools, we opened the battery compartment. In the meantime, Peter, the chief fire master, got the portable jump start unit from the fire station. In no time at all, the Harley was running, and I was on my way home.

A helping hand from the folks at Eskom Grootvlei

What are the safety lessons?

  1. Even when in a hurry, take the time to follow the correct procedures and do the right things, one step at a time (stop the engine, switch off the ignition and lock the helmet, panniers and bike.) Doing things in a hurry often leads to incidents = NEAR HITS.
  2. Be prepared. Have a set of tools in your vehicle for emergencies. A small fire extinguisher is a good idea too.
  3. Have a backup in place. The portable jump start unit is a brilliant idea for emergency vehicles. One cannot have an ambulance or fire engine not starting because the battery ran flat.
  4. Establish a root cause, even if it was a near hit with no injury or damage, and make the necessary change to avoid making the same mistake again. In my case, it required a behaviour change – I make it a habit now to switch off the ignition to stop the engine.

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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Safety or the Money?

After some 15 years, we had to re-thatch the roof of our cottage, “Isidleke” (meaning “the nest” in Zulu).

There is something truly African about a thatched roof … the smell of the freshly cut grass, the natural yellow colour, as well as the rough, yet smooth, texture and a natural, but unholy mess of grass all over the show.

There is another aspect to thatching projects.

Although it requires a lot of skill to do a neat thatch, it is a low level skill and the profit margin is very tight. Hence, it is entrepreneurs with few resources who are in the thatching business. The bakkie used is often a clapped out “skedonks”, leaking oil onto the driveway, and don’t even get me started on the tools and equipment which are enough to send any safety professional into a flat spin. The safety standards are all but non-existent – working at heights without any safety harness and PPE – going against all safety rules.

Now, here is the dilemma.

If you, the average home owner, insist on safety harnesses, professional scaffolding with inspection certificates, full PPE and all the rest of the good safety procedures, you will not be able to get a contractor who will do this job at an affordable price. The result? Most will get the job done by a contractor who offers a reasonable price and good quality and simply hope for the best.

I have no actual figures, but, on researching this, found very few reports of “falling from heights” accidents in the informal sector, which surprised me.

It is tough to walk YOUR talk in SAFETY, if it touches YOUR purse, and this often holds true for most companies as well.

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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“My Brothers’ Keeper”

Picture this.
A convoy of 47, lined up and ready to go.
Or better, hear the beat of the engines, as 47 Harley Davidson motor bikes rrrrroar down the open road.

This was the first pack ride for Heidi, my wife, and I.

What an awesome experience, riding with mature and responsible bikers. I felt comfortable and secure driving in the formation of a pack. There is safety in numbers. When the front riders see a danger on the road, like potholes, they alert all the other riders, by means of hand signals, to ‘watch out’, ‘slow down’, or some other precaution. This is truly ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ in action.

The ride kicked off with the road captain briefing everyone about the road conditions and some of the dangers to watch out for. As a newcomer to pack riding, I got a safety talk from Piet, who, by the way, is a Jumbo Jet pilot for SAA!

It was an absolute pleasure sharing a ride with like-minded, safety-conscious bikers. I love the self-discipline, attitude towards safe riding and the concern they show for each other, as well as the fellowship of the Harley riders.

I wish I could transfer this to some of my clients.

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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Gotta run.
Jürgen

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