Safety by industry concensus

February 1, 2006 By    

Actions have always been influenced by politics and consensus. It’s much easier to sort out right and wrong when hindsight is 20/20 and situational ethics having been exposed for what they are. But passions run deep and old ways are hard to change. We also don’t like our dirty laundry aired to the world, even when it’s for our own good.

 Jay Johnston
Jay Johnston

I know my rhetoric about safety ruffles feathers and fans the flames of passion. I am aware that many old-school marketers long for the days when propane cost 15 cents a gallon, tanks were cheap or easy to steal and most accidents were not scrutinized for liability.

I miss the good old days as much as anyone else, but I live in the real world today. Today there’s more people, more homes, more propane systems and more lawyers.

The law of large numbers indicates a greater propensity for accidents to happen. That’s why we must continue to support and develop a strong consensus about safety practices and policies. We must support initiatives such as CETP, Gas Check, DOT, OSHA, AWAIR and insurance carrier loss control recommendations.

Rather than roll our eyes at measures and precautions designed to limit, reduce or prevent accidents, we must embrace concepts intended to protect all stakeholders in the process.

I get tired of negativity by consensus. Obstacles are things we see when we take our eyes off our goals – goals that can be tarnished and contaminated by negative spin and popular procrastination. Some folks only see problems; others see opportunity for change and prosperity.

I occasionally get feedback from those hard-working drivers and service technicians out in the field. By consensus, they fight for the right to be safe every day. But it is not always an easy path to choose.

Some have to do with outdated or unsafe equipment. Occasionally these workers are coerced to “get ‘er done” at the expense of their own safety or the safety of their customers. In those isolated situations, it’s not a fair fight because they need their jobs. That’s not right. It’s also a formula for disaster by consensus.

It’s interesting that my thoughts on safety occasionally upset marketers. Somehow a small minority seem to form a consensus that dismisses logic and rationalizes compromise. Like ostriches with heads in the ground and assets waving in the wind, they long for the days when life was less complicated. This, I understand.

We all get angry when faced with too many rules and regulations. We are all tired of looters who stick their hand out expecting payment from those who have money or insurance, regardless of cause or stupidity.

But the best way to win these wars is through prevention. We must measure risk and prevent accidents. We must each find the courage to stand up for what is right and expose that which we know is wrong or unsafe.

The NPGA recently released its new mission statement to hold safety as an industry wide priority. I, along with many others, intend to help them keep that promise. We’d be proud to have you join the club.

Jay Johnston ( is president of Jay Johnston & Associates, a business consulting firm with a focus on insurance, safety, bid management and motivational presentations. He can be reached at 952-253-2710.

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