Propane companies can maintain compliance by recognizing the good, bad

August 1, 2012 By    

We are all creatures of habit. The food we eat, the clothes we wear and all other choices we make become habitual routines that we tend to repeat day after day.

The thing about habits is that some go under the category as good habits, while others fall into the category of bad habits. Both good and bad habits can be rationalized by opinion, experience, convenience and social acceptability. We tend to perfect habits through repetition.

Another thing about habits – they are influenced by others around you. For example, if all of the drivers have a cigarette and are standing around the bulk trucks before starting their day’s deliveries, you may come to adopt or accept this habit, even though you know it violates code.

Some folks have a habit of diving into a situation without having the training or help to do the job safely. Such eager beavers reinforce bad habits every day until one day the law of averages crushes their convenience and a preventable accident becomes a safety statistic. There is an old saying that “the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s butt every day.” We have to move around and make our own luck.

We make our own luck by respecting safety standards and company policy to the point of consistent compliance. By doing so, we encourage others to follow and emulate good safety habits.

Any employee who stands by or looks the other way when a fellow employee creates an unsafe situation may be contributing to a future accident.

If you are a manager or employee, you know who has good habits and who has bad habits. The question I ask each of you to examine is: How could those bad habits contribute to a preventable accident? At your next safety meeting, I recommend that you discuss bad habits and what you can do to nip them in the bud before an accident occurs.

Perhaps more interesting questions might be: What are the perceived benefits that allow us to overlook or fail to recognize potential exposures and costs? How can you derive benefits from bad habits?

Smokers, for example, feel the benefits of smoking to be relaxing. I am a former smoker, and smoking gave me the false sense that it calmed me and took the pressure off; when in truth the smoke was attacking my heart, lungs and blood vessels. Every time I lit up, I was rewarded with a sense of satisfaction.

If satisfaction was the benefit, what was the potential cost? Beyond the damage to my heart, lungs and blood vessels, I wasn’t paying attention while driving and lighting up. An at-fault auto accident can be a costly insurance nightmare equal to any fire or explosion.

What other bad habits can be harmful in the propane workplace? I suggest you make a list at your next safety meeting. Examples might be:

• Texting while driving
• Taking short cuts in safety procedures
• Failing to perform a required leak check on an interruption of service
• Rushing a job due to a busy route schedule
• Failing to recognize obvious system code violations
• Failing to get proper equipment or help when lifting

At your next safety meting, I encourage you to recognize that safety requires leadership and the courage to examine habits both good and bad to achieve a clear look at safety compliance or costly exposures.

When you discuss the problems, you can design solutions. It’s a great safety habit.

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