As I was getting ready to attend my son’s graduation as an Industrial Electrician, I was reminded of the many conversations we’ve had over the years about safety in the workplace. It’s a subject that’s always been important to me, having been an industrial leader with a lot of electricians under my supervision.
One conversation with my son stood out to me. We were discussing why electricians aren’t always 100% diligent in testing circuits after isolating them. Bo, having worked as an electrical apprentice, made the statement that some maybe didn’t see it as a choice – it was simply the way things were done. He pointed out that after many years of experience doing it their way, it is a habit and not a choice. The conversation took plenty of patience and darn good questions on my part to properly understand his perspective.
This got me thinking about the perception of choice and how leaders can better educate their followers about the importance of making good choices when it comes to safety. It’s not always obvious to people, especially those who are new to the industry or who have been doing things a certain way for a long time. As leaders, we need to take the time to listen to our followers and ask the right questions to help them understand why certain safety measures are necessary, and it is up to them to make the right choice, so they can get home safely to their families.
This is especially important when it comes to hazards that aren’t immediately visible or obvious. It’s easy to recognize the hazards associated with molten metal or heavy machinery, but many of the hazards we encounter require additional diligence; such as testing a circuit to ensure it has truly been de-energized after locking it out.
It’s up to all of us, as leaders and followers, to recognize the hazards and choose to make good choices to keep ourselves and our co-workers safe. And sometimes, that means taking the time to really listen to each other and ask the right questions to gain a better understanding.