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By: Dennis Slabaugh, Senior Risk Management Consultant

Safety in the shop takes on many forms: Slips and falls. Lifting injuries. Powered cutting blade injuries, manual cutting blade injuries. Eye injuries. Respiratory illness. Hearing damage. What is the major contributing cause of injuries? Human Beings!

Rarely does a tool or piece of equipment itself fail. We may push it past its safe limit but rarely does it outright fail and cause injury. So, therefore, most injuries are caused by human error. Errors are inevitable. That is where safety equipment, common sense, and physical instinct come into play. The first two are obvious, but what do we mean by “physical instinct”? Physical instinct is that feeling we get inside or the actual rising of the hair on the back of our neck as we attempt something that goes beyond our comfort level. It is a physical WARNING to STOP.  Stop and think about what we are attempting and find an alternative way to accomplish the task so that the physical response ceases.

It is human nature to take risk. We are taught that risk taking builds our coffers and moves us ahead. But when it comes to safety risk, the more we take on, the more we will lose. I cannot think of one reward that comes from assuming safety risk. Perhaps if you run a commercial shop you increase profits by taking safety risk and get things done faster. I am not sure the two things correlate though. If you take the short time up front to make the proper set-ups, the right hold-downs, the sharpening of tools, I suggest that in the long run you work more efficiently, more effectively and in the same or less time.

Yes, we have two eyes, and we have two hands, and we have ten fingers. But the last time I took inventory, I used all of those assets each and every day. That is why we should put away the idea that “ It won’t happen to me this time”, and create a routine of always donning the glasses before we pick up any tools.

One of my clients had an employee loose an eye, only because he did not have his glasses on when he attempted the simple task of cutting some metal banding on a load of material. $50,000 later, he MAY be able to use some of that eye again. And he was sure, that it would not happen to him that time. But it did. The time we need our safety gear is every time. Because neither you, nor I can predict the exact moment when our simple task takes our hand off or an eye out in a split second. You can’t jump up in the air at the exact moment that the plunging elevator hits the ground just as you can’t pull your hand away from the spinning blade when you reach over it and it first touches your skin.

Be Safe. Please? Thank you.

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