We begin with an all-to-familiar sad story. A well-meaning, hard-working young man, just trying to do his job, fell into an industrial shredder. His co-workers found him a few hours later ground into tiny little pieces at the landfill where he worked. Remarkably, the news article notes that “law enforcement officials and representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration believe the employee’s death was an accident.”
No kidding! What else could it have been? Did someone less official think he jumped in on purpose? Of course not. I’ve spent my entire career studying human behavior and why people have accidents. Our mission is to make the world a safer place, so tragedies like these get me riled up.
Good People DO Die at Work
Good people die at work and I can explain why. Understanding why is the first step to preventing these events from happening again and again.
In my early 20s, I got a job as a dock supervisor at a unionized LTL carrier in Cleveland, Ohio. I was taught that all the drivers and dock workers were lazy bums and it was my job to chase them around and harangue them to get more work out of them. Imagine what a lovely work environment that was! They justifiably called me “Little Hitler” and we didn’t get much work done.
It wasn’t until ten years later that I learned how ridiculous my initial “leadership” training was. It’s known at Theory X Management. Theory X states that workers can’t be trusted to do their jobs and managers are supposed to whip them into shape to drive up production. Not a very effective strategy. On the contrary, you can chase good workers away with that approach.
Theory X to Theory Y
My transformation happened in 1983. Ryder Truck Lines and P*I*E had just merged and opened a new break-bulk terminal in Bath, PA. We hired 300 locals and started moving freight. I was dumbfounded by what I saw. Freight flew across the dock. There was no need for Theory X in this environment. We went on to break every production record in the history of the company. As fate would have it, I got a lot of credit for posting up such great numbers and it did wonders for my career. I guess I was in the right place at the right time.
Why was Bath, PA so different from Cleveland, OH? It turns out, these hard-working farm boys had never been paid so well. To a person, they worked their butts off. I quickly evolved from Theory X to Theory Y, that most people are good and want to do a good job. As you can imagine, my new approach not only helped my career, it made my life far more enjoyable.
People Want to Do A Good Job, Safely...So Help Them Do It!
I concluded that no one goes to work in the morning with the intent to get hurt or do a crummy job. They go to work to be productive and successful. But, every once in a while, something goes horribly wrong.
And that brings me back to why people have accidents. Theory Y states that people are good and hard-working. People really try to get their jobs done in the most efficient way possible. But they get so focused on clearing a shredder, lifting a heavy box or getting to their next delivery on time that they fail to consider the risks they face. That’s when they climb into an industrial shredder to clear a jam. That’s when they die at work.
Professional driving is especially a case in point. Drivers want to deliver everything on schedule and drive safely on the road. But sometimes they take risks to ensure this happens. This is why you need to teach all of your drivers, however experienced they may be, that risk in any situation can lead to negative consequences, sometimes small, sometimes quite fatal.
Your drivers want to be the best-so help them do it with a professional driving program that breaks it down simply. The A-Fleet dives in depth to teach drivers what they need to know to both do their job well and do it as safely as possible. Nobody wants to die at work.