The danger of ‘It’ll only take a sec’

by on March 1, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network
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Two recent examples show that the excuse, “It’ll just take a second” is a difficult temptation for even the best-trained workers:

1. A supervisor was charged with writing the company’s general lockout/tagout policy as well as the individual equipment procedures.

About a year after completing that assignment, he was repairing an open electrical box. He didn’t lock it out. He later explained, “I thought it would only take a second.”

Unfortunately, as he reached to grab something, his hand and forearm accidentally grazed live wires in the box. He suffered third-degree burns in his hand.

2. An equipment operator worked on a power press that included a valve that shot out pressurized air. He thought the valve wasn’t working.

Instead of stopping the machine, he kept the machine on and took a shortcut: He tried to slide a piece of paper over the valve to see if the air would make it flutter. He never found out: The machine cycled and stamped his hand.

To make matters worse, a co-worker saw the accident and hit the e-stop while the worker’s hand was crushed in the machine. That meant the machine had to go through a one-minute startup sequence before they could remove his hand from the machine.

Take away for supervisors:

  • You can’t issue too many reminders that “it’ll only take a second” are famous last words. Even workers and supervisors with real responsibility for safety may fall victim.
  • Remind workers of emergency procedures. For example, hitting the e-stop made matters worse in this case. Check with your safety director for machine-specific emergency procedures.

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