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A storm was rolling through my neighborhood bringing wind and heavy rain. I watched from the bay window as two robins perched themselves on opposite sides of the rim of their nest…spreading their wings to surround the two baby birds within. They maintained this position, sacrificing their own comfort and safety to protect their young from the ravages of the storm. When the storm had passed, the two robins flew off in search of food for the young birds.
What does this story have to do with worker safety? Simple. The two robins had a responsibility to protect their young. Granted, their actions were instinctive, but the point is; they took action to protect those for whom they were responsible.
Managers at every level of the organization are responsible for the safety of their workers. Some managers have recognized and embraced that responsibility, taking appropriate actions to assure their workers are safe while on the job. Sadly, there are still many who neglect their responsibility in the name of production. They typically don’t engage my services.
Forty-five years after President Nixon signed the Williams-Steiger Act establishing mandates for worker safety, many managers still turn a blind eye to unsafe actions and unsafe conditions. They still refuse to implement worker safety programs or go beyond that which is absolutely necessary. “The less done the better” is the credo for many managers.
It isn’t rocket science. But it does take initiative. It takes action. It takes caring about human life.
Managers have both a legal and moral responsibility to protect their workers. Systems of hazard recognition should be implemented and actions taken to eliminate hazards and enforce procedures – all procedures be they production, quality or safety. Efforts should be made to build a culture of caring and working together to protect all workers. It’s simply the right thing to do.
Some jobs are inherently dangerous: working the deck of a crab boat in a rolling Bering Sea; driving professionally, where the employee has no control over other drivers on the road; and providing medical care where the employee is exposed to health and physical hazards on a daily basis. But most jobs can be made safe simply by identifying the hazards and taking appropriate steps to protect the worker from them. It isn’t rocket science. But it does take initiative. It takes action. It takes caring about human life. It takes someone willing to stand on the rim of the nest.