Or……What has digging basements got to tell me about being a productive safety guy??

Many years ago I worked for a small construction company that dug basements for new buildings.  We dug the basements with front-end loaders which were very awkward, time-consuming and did not do a good job.  But everyone did it that way so we did not need to change.

All the time we were doing this, there were excavators sitting idle.  Why?  Because in our minds excavators were for digging ditches.  Our minds did not let us see that the excavator was the perfect tool for digging basements.  We didn’t see it.  All of us are good people with a lot of experience.

I have seen this, in myself, a few times in my life.  What I needed was often right in front of me but for some reason, I did not see it.

  I was a safety guy/trainer in the oil patch for 16,500 hours.  Gas plant and pipeline construction.  A big part of my job was compliance training. Keeping everyone up to date was sometimes organized chaos.  And again, in front of me, available and at very little cost in time or money……was custom online training.  People used online training to write their safety tickets.  I did not think of using that tool for our day-to-day on-the-job training.

Let me give you an example.

On a pipeline job, there is an instrument that is used to search for parts of the pipe that have breaks in the protective coating.  We normally call it a “jeeper”.   One of the crews had their jeeper run over by a big tractor.  Somehow the word got to the top management in Calgary that we had run over a Jeep.  As in a Jeep vehicle.

    That certainly “poked a stick in the beehive”.

Even once they found out it was just a small instrument, their adrenalin was still so high that the corrective actions were intense.

One of these corrective actions was that I was assigned the task of updating the crew on procedures.           So I drove hundreds of kilometres and held dozens of safety meetings.  The proof of our due diligence was a sign in sheet at each meeting.  This whole process took thousands of hours, miles and dollars.  But that is how everyone did it.

I could have used specialized software, taken 3 or 4 hours and made a safety procedure review course, then put it on Workhub with a quiz, ticket and great record keeping system.  All in less time than it takes me to drive out and back to one job site.  The savings in time and money are expodential.  For a superior product.

And that is how the “Captivate for Safety People” course and website came about.

Ian Young