Jan 29

Bucket List, Eliminate Shortcuts Today to Live Your Dreams Tomorrow!

Bucket List, Eliminate Shortcuts Today to Live Your Dreams Tomorrow!

So, what is on your bucket list?

A True ‘Preventable’ Tragedy and a bucket list lost – – The cell phone rang; being in a meeting, I ignored it. It immediately rang again and I stepped out of the room. It was the regional dispatcher. I can still remember his words, “Electrical contact Matt…we’ve got two men down.”

I told the dispatcher that I’d be there as soon as I could. I ran out the meeting and peeled out of the parking lot. I had an 80-mile drive to the work site; how could this have happened?

A recent study entitled The Peer Principle by Bloomberg Businessweek published in May 2010 stated, “In the area of safety, our study found that 93% of employees say they see urgent risks to life and limb, and yet less than one-fourth of those who see concerns speak up about them. Rather, they wait for bosses or others to take action.”

Once on site, I found that the crew had been setting poles and laying out phases to reconductor three mile section of line. The six man crew, with over 100-years of experience between them, was going to work one last pole then go home for the weekend. Given the experience of the crew and the fact that this job was normally done with three men, not six, it was a cake job for a Friday.

The only major hazard on the job was a 12,470 volt phase-to-phase overhead line. The crew knowingly positioned their truck under the line to avoid setting up on a busy road. Putting the truck there, under the only hazard on the job that could quickly end one’s life, one would think they would have stopped and discussed this hazard; or, placed a spotter designated to watch the boom, making sure it stays out of the minimum approach distance, or ground the truck or cover the lines or place a spotter to guide the operator. They did none of these things.

Shortly after starting work, the boom contacted the overhead line as the men were pulling material off the truck. Two men were down. One man died. A family is without a father. The incident left a son without a fishing buddy and a daughter without an escort down the aisle. A bucket list lost.

First things first; Jeff was a lineman near Chicago. His show up location had more than two hundred line workers. There, Jeff never felt at home so he and his young family decided to make a change, he took a job in Excelsior Springs, MO. That show up location had twenty linemen, a boss and a store keeper. Jeff had found home and one of the first things he did was take his eight year old son Ben into work one day to meet the men and meet the boss. They found a small harness and took Ben on a bucket ride. Driving home that day Ben looked at his dad and said, “Dad, I’m not sure I like you being a lineman.”

“Why?” Jeff questioned.

“Dad, it looks dangerous.”

Jeff thought for a moment and said, “Well, it can be dangerous but as long as I never take a short cut, there is nothing out there that can hurt me.”

That was apparently enough for Ben because he didn’t say another word about it. Weeks, then months, ticked by. Finally, Jeff got that call that every linemen gets from time to time, storm break. This was 2005 and the storm was Hurricane Dennis. Linemen from all over the country were supporting the storm restoration including Jeff in Missouri.

Jeff went home and told his family that he was leaving early the next morning and would be gone for two or three weeks. They shared a family dinner and played some family games then went to bed a little early, since Jeff had to get up so early the next day. After relaxing in bed, Jeff saw the kitchen light come on. He told his wife that he better get up and check it out. There, sitting at the kitchen table was Ben. “Dad, I wanted to write you this note…so you would have it while you are working during the storm.”

Jeff’s hugged his son and said thank you. He told his eight year old son to put the note near his line boots and went to bed.

The next morning Jeff pulled himself out of bed at 3:30 a.m. He put on his line boots and stuck a note from his son in his pocket. When he returned from the storm he called me and told me I had to read this note, and I have been sharing it with linemen ever since. It simply said, “To Daddy, I love you. I will really, really, really, really really miss you a lot. Don’t take shortcuts. Love Ben.”

Bucket List, Redefined, Each of us has a bucket list. Whether you have taken time to write it out or just have a number of fun and exciting things floating in your head, either way it is a bucket list. These are typically a combination of hopes, dreams and goals for you and your family. Some may include a Hawaii vacation, attending a NASCAR event, retirement, seeing your children through college, grandkids, or a round of golf three times a week…and the list can go on and on.

But in the utility business, hazards are unforgiving and seldom are we given a second chance. One little shortcut can rob us and our families of our bucket lists. So, before we can enjoy our bucket list (dreams) we must first take care of the immediate bucket list – – which is how we are going to work safe and eliminate short cuts on each and every job! Nearly every injury, incident and near miss in the utility industry is due to a shortcut. Cutting one little corner can literally cost you and your family your future…your bucket list. So, what’s on your bucket list? Don’t take shortcuts.

Eliminate shortcuts today with Matt’s new DVD, Bucket List. Click onto www.safestrat.com.

Matt Forck, CSP and JLW, is a former journey lineworker and current board certified safety professional and keynote speaker supporting clients in over ten countries. Matt works with clients to eliminate mindless shortcuts including his new safety resource called Bucket List: Eliminate Shortcuts Today to Live Your Dreams Tomorrow. This is resource includes safety awareness materials designed to bring focused attention to the elimination of shortcuts through a video, posters, involved safety meeting activities, safety awareness items and more! If you are series about eliminating short cuts this is your one stop resource. If you could find a month of safety meeting and tailgate materials for an entire month all for around $100 per month chances are you would jump at that opportunity…Bucket List is that opportunity! To learn more and find other free resources click onto www.safestrat.com. You can follow Matt on Twitter @safestrat.