Tag Archives: Safety with Uncle Nicky

TIRE FAILURE CRASHES By Nick Nicholson

Back in the late 80’s or early 90’s I was in a classroom made up of transportation safety professionals when a speaker announced he was going to show us a film that would teach us something new about driving. Immediately the “body language” in the room shifted, arms started to be folded across chests and a laid back position was adopted by most. We knew it all ….. nobody could teach us anything new at this point in our careers. We were the experts – didn’t you know?

I found the audience reaction fascinating. As the narrator went along you could see some shifting of position taking place and when he reached the “stinger statement”, you could see jaws actually dropping. Disbelief showed on the faces. Mumbling was heard throughout the room, arms dropped and people began to sit up straight. It was a true epiphany.

The narrator (race car driver – the late “Benny” Parsons) stated that Nick-2015this information was already fourteen years old at that time and that testing was continuing. Very few in the world knew anything about it and this French manufacturing organization was trying to freely spread to word to save lives. Today, over twenty-five years later, it is sad to say that the bulk of the driving population still don’t know its secret. Governmental driving manuals and tests (that I’m familiar with) totally ignore it still relying on information from the 40’s and 50’s. Thankfully, some professional drivers are beginning to get the picture but, there are many who refuse to believe.

The secret, in a nutshell, is this: “When a “blowout” or rapid loss of air in a tire occurs, the answer is under your right foot! No! Not the brake! Applying the brake is the worst thing you can do. No! Taking your foot off the accelerator is the second worst thing you can do! The real answer is, stepping ON the accelerator!” Wow! Do you believe that? Well, you’d better, because it’s true.

Based on physics, the narrator goes on to tell you why. Any sudden move, such as a blowout, creates a new sideways force on the vehicle that will increase if it is not corrected. The application of the accelerator puts power to the drive wheels which overcomes that sideways force, regaining the force to the direction you were going in the first place. Yes, the tire is now flat but the wheel is still rolling forward, a little bumpy as it might be. Once control has been regained, you can pick and choose where a safe place might be to slow down and pull off the road. The tire is already shot anyway and you might be able to still save the wheel if you can get off the road soon enough. Big Deal! If you can save lives, wheels can be replaced and done so much cheaper than an entire wrecked vehicle.

If this is new to you, I urge you to take ten minutes and watch a, now, old, film put out by Michelin Tire called; “The Critical Factor”. You can keep copies of it on your computer and share it as much as you can with your loved ones and friends (enemies, for that matter). The person coming towards you on the highway could be the one in need of this information, saving your life in the process.

Source:

RV Tires | Michelin’s online RV video learning center. | Michelin RV Tires
www.michelinrvtires.com/reference-materials/videos

RV Tire Videos, RV Tire Training Videos and More. Watch helpful tips and demos, and learn about motorhomes, campers and RV tires from the Michelinexperts. … RV: The Critical Factor … 2014 Michelin North America Inc. All rights reserved.

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.

PREVENTABILITY – WHY?-By Nick Nicholson

I recently discovered that many people in transportation, don’t understand the significance of Collision Review Committees or “preventability”. They have varying erroneous thoughts as to what “preventability” actually means.

We so often hear: “What do you mean “preventable”? The other guy was charged, not me!”  The purpose is not to decide fault nor does it signify who should be charged! No, it’s not to decide punishment! It’s not to compare drivers and, its purpose is not who gets a safety pin at the end of the year.

The purpose of a Collision Review Committee should be something like a Court Ordered Inquest. It’s to find causation for the mishap, find ways of keeping it from happening again, making recommendations to change policy if necessary and to supply information for training.

It is a review that should only be conducted by drivers who are familiar with the same kind of conditions faced daily. The involved driver should never be identified – there is no place for bias on this committee. Use a crash numbering system.

In my opinion, management’s function should not exceed that of the facilitator. In the committees I served on (safety rep), my only voting function was that of a “tie breaker” and that happened twice in twenty-five years.

When reading a collision report, assessing crash photographs, diagrams, witness statements and driver explanations, the committee members should be able to picture themselves in the exact same position and circumstances. Today, dash cams recording ten seconds before and after impact should be utilized in your fleet.

With the proper training, members should be able to clearly visualize what preceded the crash, at the point of impact and what followed the initial or subsequent crashes. They should be able to apply their experiences to a situation to see if they think they could have reasonably avoided the same outcome by something they might or, might not have done.

This is why collision reports should have as much detail as possible and explain the driver’s thoughts and feelings as well as actions. Only someone who is familiar with the dynamics of heavy vehicles knows the sensations/feelings felt when a vehicle is in trouble. There comes a point before impact when you realize the vehicle is out of your control.

To me, this is the practical reason for a safety practitioner to attend Nick-2015a collision scene. To get as much information as possible that others (police, courts, media, etc.) don’t gather and don’t care about. Knowing the needs of the committee, I often accompanied the driver to a coffee shop afterwards to assist the driver writing the collision report.

The committee’s job then is to decipher, make recommendations, report, and management’s is to publicize. If nobody learns from it, there’s no sense doing it.

Committees should have three choices: “Preventable”, Non-Preventable and, “Preventable, with an explanation”. I found the third category useful in situations where an action was taken to avoid one situation, resulting in another. There were also collisions where a driver was attempting to mitigate a much more serious, life-threatening, crash by driving it off the road.

Experienced, “preventable” collision free, driver committee members know the requirements. These are reasonable. If the crash driver didn’t follow them then, in all likelihood, the committee would decide the collision was “preventable”.

During the pre-trip inspection, if the driver found something unsafe but, the dispatcher demanded the vehicle be driven, then two people share the responsibility of preventability. It’s still preventable by the driver! The company now has a bigger part to play!

If the committee decides that the crash driver, once faced with the circumstances, had taken every reasonable precaution to avoid a collision then, non-preventable is the judgement. This seldom happens. Often, preplanning like increased “space cushion”, driving for conditions, etc. could have avoided the circumstances.

A “wheel-off” bounces from another vehicle and strikes a windshield would be the type of case deemed “non-preventable”. In this case, the committee would still try to find a solution to make this situation preventable. They invented wheel cages for tire technicians, why not for moving trucks or busses. Perhaps the committee could request that the employer installs them or lobby the government.

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.

ICEBERG ROAD RAGE by Nick Nicholson

The term “Iceberg Road Rage” came from the same man credited with naming “Road Rage” in the first place, Britain’s Dr. David Lewis.

We have become very familiar with seeing the results of road rage in daily news broadcasts. When two or more drivers don’t see eye to eye, retaliation can take a physical form causing death, bodily injury or substantial damage. But, what is this “Iceberg Road Rage”?

Dr. Lewis claims that it can be more dangerous than road rage itself because it involves YOU. Just as an iceberg floats with ninety percent of its mass hidden under the water, iceberg road rage can stew in one’s mind just under the surface for well over an hour. That could cover a distance of over seventy miles (112+ km.) where our thoughts are disrupted from safety.

It’s that feeling we get when some idiot’s action annoys us to the point that we ignore our normal safe driving precautions. We become aggressive just to keep that driver in sight. Our secret desire is to see them receive some sort of restitution because of the way we think they drive. Unfortunately, quite often it’s an innocent mistake on the part of the other driver, not a malicious, intentional action where we take exception. Sometimes, I think vehicles need “pop-up” signs that say “Sorry!” for just those occasions. It might diffuse others and can’t be confused with “giving the finger”.

Our thinking changes to “they deserve to be harmed”. I want revenge! It “simmers” away at us. We don’t outwardly react but all the time it’s going through our minds we are not driving safely. We do dangerous things to keep that person within sight and therefore, are putting ourselves, passengers and fellow road users in peril. We are not focusing on our own safety.

As a safety practitioner, we have to first, recognize the sensation within ourselves and divorce from it and, second, transfer that message to our trainees so they can stop as soon as the thought occurs. Get away from it immediately and re-focus on your own driving.

Instantly, we need to “back-off” and let that perpetrator get out of sight. At the same time, remove that incident from your mind. Hit the imaginary “REFRESH” button and bring your thinking back to safety. We need to apply extra caution because we know our thoughts have been disrupted. What about the guy beside us who witnessed the same incident and has similar feelings. What’s he going to do that might involve us?

There are so many distractions out there that don’t even touch upon Nick-2015cell phone usage that we literally jeopardize our lives when we turn the key. Very few drivers are actually consciously thinking about their driving when they are driving. Even the best of drivers catch themselves doing that!

This is the message we have to get through to our trainees. Make them conscious of what precautions they need to take for themselves and make them aware of the fact that other drivers may not be in “touch”. Make sure our driver’s mind is squarely on top of the iceberg, well aware of what danger is surrounding at all times. There’s a store that sells phoney red “Easy Buttons”. Should they be applied to fleet dashboards and labelled “REFRESH” to increase our “ICEBERG” awareness? Push it to remind yourself!

I’ll always remember Joe Edmonds who gave a presentation to our Council around 2007. His son and two others were killed in a road rage incident. His advice to us was when another person annoys us, “think of that person as a rock”. If you came across a rock in the middle of the road, you would avoid it and carry on giving no further reaction. Do the same with that driver.

It only takes a fraction of a second to destroy our world as we know it. Keep your world safe.

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

Sources:
David Lewis, Screentrade.co.uk
http://drdavidlewis.com/television/
www.staples.ca
http://www.ourperth.ca/news-story/6007006-grieving-father-speaks-about-road-rage/

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.

ATTITUDE-By Nick Nicholson

I once watched a senior executive publicly scream, shout and scold a driver who had made a mistake while attempting to assist an injured person. In the process of reversing, the driver’s door was taken off by a post when the driver opened the door before completely stopping. After the tirade was over, the senior executive then sent that driver out on the road to carry fare paying passengers.
The driver made a mistake.  The executive made several in my opinion. That public display of anger was the first. Other drivers witnessed it, instantly altering their attitude toward him, “typecasting” him as a substandard employer. That kind of message spreads very quickly throughout an organization.
His prime focus was on the laying of blame and discipline.  The employees immediately knew he didn’t care about his workforce.   I lost a lot of respect for that man in that one move but, said nothing until later when we were alone.
Probably one of the most important words in the safety world or, in life itself, is “attitude”. A dictionary describes the word as a: noun – a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behaviour. (sic)  It’s very hard to fabricate a positive attitude when you don’t live it. That executive’s negative attitude came through loud and clear.
Think of the blunders made here. That driver already knew his error. He would already be embarrassed about it. He doesn’t need a public scolding. In my opinion, the worst mistake was sending the now, upset, driver right out on the road to deal with customers. How do you think the rest of his day went and how much of that effect was transferred to the other drivers and on to the customers. Do you think this driver’s key focus was on safe driving or would you more likely find him stewing over that situation for that day, and maybe for several more?
The likelihood of exposing the company’s passengers to a higher level of danger increased with that driver, in my opinion. Everybody there would forget safety to focus on that situation for the rest of the day. I know, I did. Even today, maybe fifteen years later, I doubt that any of those drivers would look favourably upon that executive.Nick-2015
As a safety practitioner, you should have a positive attitude, especially, if you are responding to an emergency. You have the opportunity while responding to check yourself from your own adrenaline action so that when you arrive you can calmly deal with people and the situation exuding confidence. That, in itself, calms others and defines a level of control at the scene. Your calm, confident, methodical, practiced steps in dealing with what’s happening, demonstrates to others that the world will go on. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable they are.  It also can gain you a lot of respect from other emergency responders.
Chances are that at a scene, your driver will ask if he/she is in trouble. I’ve always responded by saying that this is not the time, and I’m not the person to decide discipline. They already know the answer, anyway. They don’t have to be scolded while he/she is at the scene. Plenty of time for that later, privately. If YOU lose “your cool”, you might as well go home.  You’re useless and you’ve just added to the problem.
In an effort to teach safety to others, you are really trying to manipulate their attitude into informed acceptance of your logic.  They must know why as well as what to do to keep them safe. Your object is to reach their mental triggers to sway them into protecting themselves. Healthy fear is a good thing.
Always being positive, always genuinely caring for the person and always persuading constant safety action is what you are trying to achieve. How you say it is often far more important than what you say. Your attitude can be one of your greatest sales tools and you ARE selling safety.

Keep your people safe.  The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY …….. EVERYWHERE …….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.

What “TEAM”?

In relation to safety, you, the safety practitioner, are the “team” coach. It is your job to handle the team,  What team?   “I usually work by myself”, you say. If you truly do happen to be a total one-person operation, then, you just change “hats” and work the approach on yourself.

When a safety challenge has been recognized, I have often applied the word “coach” to the effective planning needed to overcome the hazard. What the problem is, makes no difference. Actually, the industry makes no difference either.

The other day a bunch of us were discussing the safety netting surrounding flat-bed trailers. The secret lies in just, part of that statement: “a bunch of us”. That’s your team.  Loosely speaking, your “bunch” or team should include everybody involved from the initial order to the customer or end user.

So, in safety, this is how it goes (sort of). You discover a safety concern through somebody giving notice, something in your records, one or more person(s) getting injured by similar actions or, you notice repeating regular instances of impact or other physical damage.  You know you need to find causation so that the difficulty can be rectified. Yes, it’s your responsibility to solve it.

The first thing you may do is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the issue. Then, probably, an analysis of what you found should be made and broken down into small parts. Once you see some of the difficulties clearly, you may want to bring your team together and consult others on ways to avoid the danger. But, you are a long way from a final solution. We often hear of “band-aid” solutions but, they only stop the bleeding for a day.

If you plan to solve a serious problem by yourself, in all likelihood, you will fail. It might be something really simple like the changing of Nick-2015a schedule or route. Then again, it might not.  Think if your career happens to be the military in Afghanistan, your new route may be infested with IEDs, Improvised Explosive Devices. You need to find out before you begin testing it. Think of it this way; if you had all the answers, there wouldn’t be a problem in the first place.

This is where you begin steering your “team”.  These are the people involved with the operation. Whether you’ve done the job before or not, they are up-to-date. They do the job now. They know the faults. Each activity starts with a process that usually begins with one person’s first step.  Asking for, not demanding help is probably the best way to get cooperation. How you ask the question is often the key to success.

So, you may start with the buyer, clerks, labourers, or the drivers. You also must ask the right questions. As you ask for their input, make sure they are starting their thinking process at the real beginning of their part of the project and take it all the way to the end. There is no sense asking a driver about weight distribution if he/she can’t get a key for the vehicle, is there? The many questions include the repeated use of the (5wH formula); the who, what, when, where, why, and the how of each factor?

If it’s transportation we’re talking, other people are likely involved with the passengers or that load. How about the dispatcher or mechanic? Is the product already on the dock or how difficult is it to get it there and load it? Will the loaded vehicle sit there because it’s not safe to move? Consider, yard and load security, capacity, straps and chains, weigh scales, enforcement or construction along the route. Are there other factors that play a part? Heating, cooling, spoilage, theft, terrorism and so on? How about the interaction between the dispatcher or mechanic and the driver? Get the story from all sources and continue along with that same questioning all the way to the owner of the business.

If the owner is not making a profit then, all is for naught.  You don’t need a safety aspect if there IS no business. (Maybe we need to start there.)

Look for things that might have fallen through the cracks before you declare yourself ready. When you are satisfied that you are in possession of the complete picture, then, when you are about to propose changes, take those ideas back to your team again to see if your fixes will create new problems. Be sure to include a cost evaluation. Then, and only then do you begin to write policy. Make records of everything you do and know your sources.

Final solutions seldom look like the initial vision. One more thing, protect your knowledge from others while you are in the process as you’ll likely find many “naysayers” distracting you.  You will need everybody’s cooperation if you want to be successful.  Upon delivery, expect immediate “backlash” from your team and users. It helps if each of them can see their own part solved in the eventual process. They will “buy” in quicker and then, it’s on to the re-training and a “sign-off” record by each person.

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.

The Corporate Shuffle by Nick Nicholson

My wife Marian, that wee little lady that some of you know, is a hero. After around ten years working as a hospital psychiatric nurse, she’d become very familiar with the safety training.  She had attended numerous courses learning how to physically manipulate or restrain patients without hurting them, her co-workers or herself. Being tiny, mild-mannered (never threatening) and calm, she seldom had to use force.

The same applied to fire training. An orange pylon would just appear on the Ward and the first to spot it would sound the alarm. Staff followed well-known procedures and eventually an “all clear” and the exercise time would be announced.

Among the elements required during these exercises would be the evacuation of  patients, the checking of rooms with a pillow placed outside the closed door to indicate task completion. Other training involved the proper use of and practice using fire extinguishers and fire hoses. I remember Marian telling me how shocked she was at the force it took to handle a fire hose under pressure for the first time.  She became practiced and efficient and was quite proud of herself.

All good things come to an end and the hospital was divested in a corporate shuffle. Employee’s jobs ceased and were recreated with the new employer of the same facilities. The job itself, continued without a break, the same functions being carried out as they had before and really, nobody noticed much of a difference other than the sign on the front lawn and their benefits package. That is, until something went wrong.

On a cold winter’s day, at the end of the shift, she was putting on her coat to go home. Her job, at the time, was drawing patient’s blood and spinning it for transfer to the lab for analysis. She worked alone in a tiny office space with a couple of chairs and the equipment. Because nobody would replace her, it was her job to close and lock the door. She had just done that when the fire alarm sounded.

Looking back at it later, her actual job description function was done and she should have just gone home. Not our conscientious Marian! As she walked down the hall, she spotted the door to the Chapel that did not yet have a pillow outside to indicate that it had been checked. Opening the door, she looked in and found a table with chairs piled on top on fire, and high flames nearly reaching the ceiling.

Knowing that an extinguisher would be useless, she went back out to the hallway to get a fire hose. Along the way, she saw other staff running by responding to the code.  Yelling at them, she drew their attention to the fire. Together, they wielded the very leaky fire hose, put it on “dispersed spray” and put out the fire.

In conversation, she learned that the code was directed to the wrong place in the hospital. Later, it was learned that the building was coded incorrectly and had it not been for Marian, the whole place would have gone up in flames. There had never been a room code assigned to the Chapel. Further, the Fire Department, although originally on its way, was responding to the wrong location several hundred metres away.

In addition, a child sitting in a waiting room had been playing with a wall fixture. His father thought he had activated the fire alarm.  This, he reported to the switchboard operator who cancelled the fire alarm and the Fire Department.

Eventually, (second trip) the Fire Fighters arrived at the correct place and took over even though the fire had been out for some time. Soaking wet, Marian went out to her cold car and shivered all the way home. The total damage to the hospital was restricted to $5000. Wow! The facility, jobs, and possibly, the lives of around 360 people were saved!

A few days later, Marian was called before a panel of senior management for (what she thought was) an interview.  Interview, my Nick-2015eye! They proceeded to dress her down for fighting the fire with a fire hose. They told her she should have left the building immediately. “Fighting fires was not within her job description and she had no business extracting that hose from its cabinet”. This would be a “mark” against her on her record! Wow!!!

Apparently, the policy of the new employer was that staff were never to use fire hoses. Mind you, the policies were never posted nor administered to the staff. There had been no fire training since the takeover in the year that had passed, as a matter of fact, the new administration didn’t even have fire training. This was in the days of “age” forced retirement and when Marian eventually retired, there had still never been any fire training administered at that hospital and the “black mark” was still on her record.

So what am I getting at here?  So many businesses are being taken over by other entities these days, it’s often difficult to figure out just who owns the company. Both new and old staff are timidly wandering around, afraid of losing their jobs and therefore afraid to “make waves”. Oh yes, they still rely on and bring their past training with them.

If you happen to be the safety practitioner on the job when these changes are being made, make a point to compare the safety policies of the old and the new to see what changes employees are going to be faced with. Make sure you become familiar with them, make special efforts to publicize the differences and ensure all employees sign off on them. If you can, change policy to the “best practice”. Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY …………………….. EVERYWHERE ……………… ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.

Beauty and the Beast

I think it was Fort Mac’s Fire Chief Darby Allen who dubbed the fire as the “Beast”. I’m talking about the massive fire that has devastated Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Somewhere close to 100,000 people had to run for their lives and escape the inferno that surrounded and burned through their city.

Somebody pointed out that of all the cities in Canada, Fort McMurray’s residents were probably the best prepared for this kind of event. To date, two teenagers are the only fatalities and those were in a car crash. In itself, horrible, but absolutely amazing when you think of what those folks had to go through.

So, why do I think the citizens of Ft. Mac were the best prepared? Here’s where the “Beauty” comes in. It’s because the majority of the population are involved in the oil business. Through their work, they’ve had more safety analysis, safety training and all aspects of safety awareness pumped into them than any group of general population in Canada. We haven’t measured it but, we can certainly see the benefits that safety awareness made. Compare it to any daily “rush hour” traffic crash rate around Montreal or Toronto.

In the transportation business, we’ve heard a lot about “distracted Nick-2015driving” in the past few years. Can you think of anything more distracting than driving through the dark with next to zero visibility and thirty metre high flames on both sides of the road? Big, scared animals running across your path, trees and objects falling and fearful, “white-knuckled” drivers all around you ready to jam on the brakes at the slightest movement in-front-of them.

The tension those people were under had to be extreme. Starting with personal fear, add to that, scared kids in the back seat, a scared spouse, scared in-laws or out-laws beside you; the immense feeling of responsibility of evacuating your family, pets and what little personal stuff you have, out safely to an unknown circumstance or destination. All the while, trying to keep a special eye out for those you know, travelling on the same road, ahead or behind you. That’s a tremendous amount of distraction for every driver to deal with. I’m certain all “texting” was done by the passengers.

We heard stories of extreme courtesy among drivers. We heard of enduring patience, cool heads, following directions, compliance with authority and individual acts of helping and heroism.

Looting, road rage, panic, gunfire, police brutality, mob action, racism and ethnic differences of the evacuees involved are all descriptive terms that are missing from the Ft. Mac news reports. Oops! Just heard about one kid who was probably planning to rob his neighbour anyway but, because they announced the evacuation, they now, have to call it looting. Any other worldwide cities come to mind? I am certain these people (being human) will eventually get angry and start nit-picking but, what a tribute to the people of Fort McMurray. They were amazing!

It is my personal belief that the collective attitude of the people of Fort McMurray was derived predominately, through the safety culture of its inhabitants. “Big Oil”, a term most often used in a derogatory sense, was actually responsible for instilling that safety culture. Employees bringing that knowledge home, spreading it among family members, neighbours and business connections has built a city mentally prepared to accommodate disaster. That culture played a very big part in the Fort McMurray inhabitants being able to save themselves. It’s infectious and it saved lives.

Sitting in a boring safety class or listening to mundane safety instructions on the job actually rubs off. All kinds of statistics tell us how little we retain from each method of instruction but proven here, collectively, the message is broadened.

So, you “safety folks” out there; keep banging away at it. Keep analyzing the pitfalls, keep building the programs, keep spreading the message.

The listeners? Keep listening with more focused attention, applying the message to yourself and spreading it to your loved ones. Make a point to listen hard enough, that you can go home and teach your spouse and children the safety techniques. I’ve always contended the best way to learn something is to learn it well enough that you can teach it. Share it generously to anybody you can. Make sure to expand that “Beauty” into your community.

I applaud “Big Oil”, the “First Responders”, the “Relief Workers”, even the various governments but especially, the inhabitants of the City of Fort McMurray. “U DUN GOOD!” The Beauty Of Life Is Always In Your Hands!

THINK SAFETY ………………….. EVERYWHERE …………………. ALL THE TIME!

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.

What is a Safety Director?

A number of years ago I attended a company Christmas party. After the dinner, two senior executives of the company started a drinking contest. Sambuca bottles were brought out along with shot glasses and the contest began. Some time passed.

A lady (a driver’s wife) strutted up to me and said: “Stop this”! Questioning what she was talking about, she answered, “Well, you’re the Safety Director, stop this nonsense.”

The average person has no idea what a Safety Director is or does. It’s a name that conjures up law enforcement, a keeper of the peace, a person in control of others, and so on. It is also confusing because the title is often lumped in with Enforcement, Peace, and Safety Officers alike. “Safety Officer” – someone on a firing range who ensures ammunition is handled safely.

By the way, when he/she is off duty, none of these titles provide the power to stop people from drinking alcohol. Other than age restrictions for children, the laws do not even address people drinking in a licensed establishment. Only the bartender has responsibilities.

First, in my opinion, the title should never exceed “safety practitioner” unless the person has departmental management authority. Then, the closest name could be “Safety Manager”.

Therein, lies the basis for a safety practitioner. Someone who designs and imparts safety information to both the employer and the employees. It is a long and involved process. Difficult, at times, to reach a balance between the two but, nothing more than a “sales” job.

It gets confusing because safety relies on governmental legislation and not on common sense prevention. Yes, both workplace parties must be advised just what the law says so that compliance is obtained. More importantly, prevention of injuries, casualties and property is the goal of any safety thinking person. No matter who you are, what you do or what title is bestowed upon you, we all should be safety practitioners. The ‘Stay-at-home Mom” is probably the greatest safety practitioner there is in society.

Unfortunately, many company executives are no more intelligent than our lady at the Christmas party. They also confuse the duties. Many expect the safety practitioner to be the cop, to stop infractions, to penalize workers and many safety people jump right in on the bandwagon. They do so because their boss tells them to and because they don’t really, try to understand the purpose of safety information in the first place. Some, get a great kick out of the feeling of power over others. This is not restricted to safety but is a personality trait that shows up in any organization especially, with newly promoted people.

The idea of “safety” is to prevent injuries and “so called” accidents. Just about any means of promoting that message, if it will stop someone from hurting themselves or others, is the proper action to take. The benefit to human life and society, as a whole, warrant us all to think safety.

Promote safety and stay away from confrontation. In my experience, confrontation just gets the recipient’s “back up” and they’ll do the damage in-spite-of the warning. That just “festers” and they’ll keep doing it to themselves forever until they get hurt.

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who became a commercial transportation safety specialist spending many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, design and the implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Member and Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Fleet Safety Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

“Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions”

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.