Sunday, April 6, 2014

Trained. Photo #1

We had Mine Safety and Health Administration training all day on Tuesday. No that was not an April Fool's joke. It's required by our company and we got donuts and pizza for our bottoms going to sleep in chairs. In the end, we get a form that I keep on me at all times that says I'm trained.

There is no way to make the content that I've heard going on 10 years now, different. But this year, the trainer brought up something I had not considered. You know how we often talk about "near misses"? We should be talking about "near hits". Think about this.

A miss is a miss. It doesn't matter how close you came to something, you missed it. Big deal. If you change your mindset to think of these as "near hits", might you look at your behavior differently? It was an interesting concept that I stewed around in my brain. The next day, it was driven home to me.

I was heading to a job. There were two lanes of traffic. The right lane was stopped because a semi wanted to turn right and couldn't because there was a semi waiting to turn left and the street wasn't wide enough to accommodate both. The right turning semi would have to utilize the whole street in his turn.

I slowed down because people were pulling into my lane to get around the stopped traffic. Suddenly, I realized traffic had stopped. I slammed on the brakes and could feel the Jeep sliding a bit. I envisioned my front end in the trunk of the car in front of me while the next three cars behind me telescoped into my rear end. The Jeep probably would survive with scratches while these other cars crumpled. Someone, several cars ahead, had decided to stop to let the semi make its left turn so traffic could get moving. Judging by the visual reaction of the cars in front of me, I wasn't the only person who was surprised by this decision.

I missed. No, I nearly hit the guy in front of me. When I came to a stop, there were a couple feet between me and the car in front of me. Looking in the rearview mirror, I saw cars doing the slide to the left to avoid a collision dance. We all missed. No. We all nearly hit each other. Nearly hit. You can believe I changed my distance from the car in front as did the guy behind me. If we had to stop, we were not going to be slamming on our brakes and praying to the traffic gods that we were far enough away not to hit the car in front of us.

It dawned on me that, in baseball, we don't talk about a pitcher throwing a ball that nearly misses a batter. We talk about how the pitcher nearly hit the batter. It's hard to change a mindset that we've all grown up with. If I'm pounding nails and miss one, I need to think about how I nearly hit my fingers. It's this idea that MSHA, an oft reviled agency, is trying to get across. If you're missing something a lot, you'll think "Well, I can continue to do this because I haven't injured myself yet". But if you think of what you're doing as a near hit to injury, you probably will change your behavior so you aren't hurt. I experienced this first hand. I was going 40 in a 45 mile per hour zone. I think of myself as a good driver and I nearly hit someone. You can be certain I'm thinking of this now when I drive.

The next time you have a "near miss", I hope you'll stop for a moment and consider how injured you could have been had that miss been a hit. Change is slow, but this is one thing MSHA has right. Safety, at home or at work, involves removing the near hits.

Beverage:  Scottish Breakfast Tea


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