Safety Professionals Don’t Quit at Quitting Time

A few months ago, an attendee at one of my conference presentations approached me after the session with a fall protection question unrelated to the specific presentation.  Her question was about using two harnesses to support a 300-pound person on a recreational zipline, and we discussed how this was a complete misuse of the equipment.

Although this question was outside my typical focus on occupational safety, it got me thinking about something unique to safety professionals.  Even though safety professionals work a normal shift like most employees, many of us can’t stop promoting safety wherever we go.  Many of us feel an ethical responsibility to ensure safety, even if we’re not getting paid to do so.

For example, one of our clients recently relayed this story to me.  He was walking to work over a large bridge that was undergoing rehab work.  He observed a worker who was not using proper fall protection equipment hand climbing a bridge column at significant height. He was maintaining three points of contact, but was unfastened to adjust his lanyard every few seconds.  There were no designated anchors, no back up lanyard, and he risked a fall of 100 feet into the river.  Then, another worker jumped on the top of the 4-foot safety barrier and reached out as far as he could over the river to grab a rope dangling from the hip of the worker climbing above.  Our client chose to intervene in this situation, knowing that his conscience wouldn’t forgive him if he found out later that there had been an accident.

I’d like to say thank you to this client (good work, Ray) and to the countless other safety professionals who refuse to turn a blind eye to safety violations—in their workplaces and beyond.   Thank you for having the courage to speak up and share your knowledge.

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