How to Protect Your Crews from Unnecessary Danger

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Let’s pretend that I loan you my car and I tell you that you need drive it safely and stay below 55 mph. You take the keys and head out on your trip. You start off on a country road and all is good. You pull up onto the interstate and merge into traffic.

As you accelerate, you find that the traffic is moving along a lot faster than 55. You remember what I asked you about driving the car under 55 so you are torn on whether to do what I asked or to follow the herd and drive faster. After about 10 miles, it starts to get to you, so you push down on the accelerator and increase your speed to 60. After about a half an hour at this speed, you decide to go a little faster to keep up with the traffic and now you set the cruise control at 70. Then it happens: the passenger side rear tire blows out and you wrestle with the steering wheel to maneuver the car to the side of the road.

After stopping safely, you get out of the car, heart pumping and palms sweaty. You walk around the car to look at the tire and you notice something unusual. One of those little donut spare tires is on the car and it is shredded and destroyed. You think back to what I told you when you borrowed the car. I never mentioned anything about the donut spare tire that was on there. I did, however tell you to stay below 55 mph.

Would you be upset with me? Would you feel like if I had told you about the spare tire you might have listened and made sure you did not go over 55? Would it have made more sense to stay under 55?

Let’s look at this analogy for our operations that we have going on right now. Do we always identify the risk and the precaution? Or do we sometimes leave out some very important details?

Your people will be safer if they understand both. Make sure you don’t accidentally set up one of your team members for failure. Over-communicate if you must. Remember the goal: Everyone goes home safe.