Real Work and Common Sense

Kevin at Evolving Excellence brought a TED presentation to our attention. The presenter is Mike Rowe, or Dirty Jobs. You can see Kevin's post here. A couple of things struck me as lessons learned through TWI:

"Safety Third!" Mike says that the Safety First slogan is akin to putting the cart before the horse, or, just because we say so, doesn't make it so.

In TWI Job Instruction, safety is always a keypoint. People mix up the common sense fact that people get jobs done all the time in unsafe ways. It is how we do the job that makes it safe, so in a sense - safety is not first: good high quality standard work is first, then a good training delivery that builds conscientiousness into the training regimen will RESULT in good safety practices. This is the paradox of Job Instruction.

Compare this to safety slogan campaigns: a poster does nothing to actually convey the nuance of a delicate job that if done incorrectly - can take your fingers off. Or think about when a manager implores us to be safe, what does that mean really? Does the manager understand what "being safe" really means while actually on the job? Talk the talk and walking the walk are two completely different things.

One Dirty Jobs episode involves Mike working a tannery - removing flesh from a sheep skin. There were some mighty fine keypoints on how to do that job that involved doing the job right - don't let the machine do this, give the skin that amount of tension, don't do this, do that instead. All of this was done as a set of machine driven rollers tried to suck the skin through a narrow gap, nearly pulling a careless work through the machine. Unsafe? You bet. But if the job methods keypoints are standardized - the quality, tricks and safety keypoints - the result is a high quality skin for tanning, and Mike does the job safely keeping his fingers. If quality is achieved, safety follows. This is why safe companies know that safety comes third!

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