By Lynn Mitchell, ANAD Safety OfficeSeptember 5, 2019
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- I remember when my son was little and came with me to run errands, one of which was to send some bulk mail.
For those of you not familiar with bulk mail, you must see a special worker located in the back of the post office.
The process, which was supposed to be quick, took more than an hour to complete.
As you can imagine, my then four-year-old quickly grew bored and wanted to roam around the processing area of the post office.
I couldn't blame him. After all, I was ready to be finished and, for a four-year-old boy, the adventure of exploration was always calling.
Despite my desire to release him to destroy the place, due to my own frustrations at the pace of service, I was obligated to restrain him and enforce the boundaries established.
It was very difficult for my son, at his young age, to understand that using mail carts as scooters or escaping to explore was not beneficial for him.
To him, no danger could be seen and there was no harm in a little fun.
After all, he only saw the dreams of adventure versus his boredom and did not care that he was not "Authorized Personnel."
I explained as best I could that boundaries were for his protection and exploration would have to be curtailed for another day, lest there be negative consequences.
I'm sure any of you with children or grandchildren have similar memories of your kids pushing the boundaries.
Many times we are just like my son was that day, bored or frustrated with our circumstances and just desire to forget the rules and have a little fun.
We don't always see the dangers present or understand the purposes of "safety" rules or what the big deal is about breaking the rules just this once.
Realistically, we probably will be fine, but we are establishing a habit within ourselves to neglect the boundaries and take unnecessary risks.
Most of the "safety" rules have been established through decades of evaluating accident and injury statistics and looking at what caused injuries and what would have prevented them.
Take for instance the employee who grinds daily with no issues.
They know a face shield is needed for grinding, but it's only one small area that needs to be touched up and the shield is across the room.
They have on safety glasses. So, rather than taking 30 extra seconds to get the needed shield, they proceed with grinding.
The problem is, this is the one time out of hundreds when the grinder hits a notch and kicks back, resulting in lacerations to the employee's face.
When life gets frustrating and it seems another "Authorized Personnel Only" sign is posted just as you decide to enter where there is no obvious hazard, remember boundaries are there for a reason.
The safety staff doesn't sit around and dream up ways to make life difficult; rather we recognize hazards and desire to protect employees from the consequences.
Just as the lines on the road are there to help prevent accidents and ensure we successfully reach our destination, boundaries are there to ensure life is as smooth as possible and prevent the few bumps from turning into major accidents.
Just because the hazard is not immediately obvious doesn't mean it's not there.
Life moves fast enough without it getting out of control from some reckless disregard for our constraints.
Review the Job Hazard Analysis, follow proper work steps, wear appropriate protective equipment and use proper tools.
Stay within the established boundaries and progress through life with a few less bumps and ensure the journey is not unnecessarily shortened.