Would you watch out for my safety?

  • Published
  • By Galen Williams
  • 66th Air Base Group Safety director
I borrowed the title of this article from a book by John Drebinger, a well known safety motivational speaker, because I thought it had specific meaning for Team Hanscom members. With the state of our economy, employment woes and our overall well-being spiraling out of control at times, the potential for a mishap is high. As restructuring moves forward at Hanscom and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, it's precisely during times like these when I would like you to watch out for my safety.

Besides the holidays, shopping and horrendous traffic, many stressors are out there trying to pull my focus away from my team members, my family and myself. Here are five reasons why I need you to watch out for my safety and the safety of others:

1. Improve your own awareness: Leaders are on guard and constantly looking at systems, processes and equipment that may cause a problem, but you need to be on the lookout for things that are out to bite you and the folks around you. Take the extra time to read the instructions on the new equipment you bought or received. Don't be in so much of a rush to get the job done that you sacrifice safety. Set the standard by following standards and questioning the ones that don't make sense anymore. Share your knowledge with others and encourage them to do the same.

2. Avoid regret: Say something or get my attention if you know an incident will likely happen. Look out for the safety of your teammates as you would with your family. Take the time to put some extra salt and sand at entrance ways during snow and ice conditions. Saying or doing nothing will only cause regret if a mishap does take place. Don't get caught in the "would have, could have, should have" syndrome.

3. People may be distracted: There are some major stressors at work. Now, add cell phones, texting, earphones, iPads, tablets, GPS and a number of other distracters out there to help us lose focus on the situation at hand. There's also the potential loss of a loved one or personal and financial problems to help us lose focus. Stay in tune to the world around you. Loss of focus equals high potential for a mishap.

4. Our perceptions can fail us: Especially in stressful situations, it's possible to overlook a detail that could lead to a mishap or incident. Winter weather and black ice are a cause for slips, trips and falls. Even driving can become dangerous when you neglect to realize the roads are covered with damp leaves and it's misty outside. Pay attention to that gut feeling that tells you something isn't right.

5. It is the right thing to do: I'm anxious to return the favor if you watch out for may safety. It's engrained in our core values, wingman principles and character to take care of each other. Will I watch out for your safety? You bet I will!

I believe that helping folks to avoid a hazard or prevent a mishap is a motivator for leaders and future mentors-to-be; however, if the reaction does not equal the action, folks become hesitant to render assistance in critical situations. Three reasons people fail to watch out for the safety of others

a. Unreasonable premonitions - People talk themselves into thinking someone won't get hurt in order to avoid the discomfort of pointing out a hazard or unsafe behavior.

b. Teased by peers - A failure to act to avoid a hazard brought on by peer pressure.

c. Ungrateful or didn't bother to say thanks - A little gratitude goes a long way. Remember to say thanks to someone who prevented you from being injured.

The most important point of this article is what do you do when someone watches out for your safety? How do you respond? The correct response will ensure people will continue to watch out for you, your family and neighbors and will seek out ways to watch out for the safety of their fellow worker. Always pay it forward!

There are numerous tools to assist in helping others to be safety conscious at https://cs.eis.afmc.af.mil/sites/HAFBSDS/default.aspx. Additionally, the Hanscom Safety Office can be reached at 781-225-5584 or 781-225-SAFE (7233). If you notice a problem, take action to fix the problem yourself, contact a supervisor or facility manager and notify the safety office.

As the holiday season approaches, remember to look for ways to watch out for the safety of family and friends because I will surely be watching out for your safety.