As I retire this fall, I’ve reflected on the past 35 plus years for my work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For 24 of those years, I have worked with Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM). My position focused primarily on risk control, safety, and the protection of church property and other assets. Before I leave ARM and say farewell to Solutions readers, I want to share the three most common excuses I’ve heard time and time again throughout the years when I have made site inspections.“But I’m the Only One Who Uses It!”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this line. It usually comes from someone with maintenance responsibilities and refers to a power saw or other “unguarded” piece of equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other safety standards require safety guards for tools and equipment that have nip or pinch points—parts that grab clothes or hair and pull an operator into the machine or quickly cut off fingers, hands, arms, etc. Some individuals seem to think nothing will ever happen to them, and they continue to press their luck day after day.
Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Anyone can be distracted at a crucial moment and find themselves in the emergency room. Everyone is equally important when it comes to safety. and everyone’s responsibility toward safety is to all workers including themselves. OSHA makes no distinction either. Work safely and put safeguards on the tools that require them.
“I’ve Been Doing It This Way All My Life and Never Had an Accident.”
Wonderful! Everyone who has suffered an accident could say the same thing up until their “personal event” occurred—a cut, amputation, strain, fall from a ladder or roof, eye injury, electrocution, etc. There are safer ways to perform tasks and then there are ways that put individuals in the back of an ambulance. Or worse.
We must also remember that daily we set an example for other employees. Which example do you want them to follow? What effect will an injury have on a family or the employing organization?
Let’s stop doing things our way and start doing things the correct and safer way.
“It’s Grandfathered In.”
An unsafe design can linger at a facility under the guise of being “grandfathered.” It was acceptable at the time it was built, and, therefore, it doesn’t need to be changed. Sometimes that is the case. Sometimes it is not. That will often depend on local jurisdictions and other factors. A remodeled facility is one example of this. If the cost of the remodel reaches a certain amount, the out-of-code condition must often be brought current. Some authorities who have jurisdiction (AHJ), such as the local fire marshal, may request changes almost immediately, no matter what. Depending on the degree of hazard and the type of exposure, other regulations may also require changes.
As a caring church, it would seem each institution would strive to provide the safest possible environment for employees, visitors, volunteers, students and others who come onto our property. Some change might not be done today because of budget restraints, but plan for tomorrow. Set a goal and start putting aside the funds.
During my career, I revisited many institutions and sometimes felt dismayed by recommendations not taken seriously. But, I also observed numerous changes that increased safety in many facilities. People and property were better protected. Increased numbers of institutions assigned safety officers and had “active” safety committees. Leaders performed self-inspections, noted issues that needed attention and budgeted for repairs and safety upgrades. As I enter retirement, it is natural to reflect on the past. But, I also look to the future. And it looks promising to me