March 06 2023
By: Shawn M. Galloway
What experiences have shaped your safety behaviors? On a consulting project in 2006, a public utility's safety professionals were on an urgent mission to remove all the "Caution! Please Open Doors Slowly" signs from the doors to the restrooms in the administration building.
Watching this happen, I inquired. I learned the building we were in was where community members would come to pay their bills. The door to access the restrooms had no way to see what was beyond it, no window. It also did not have a quarter circle painted on the other side where you sometimes find a statement, "Do not stand here." As there was a concern someone might open the door and make contact with someone on the other side, they put up a red plastic sign with white lettering saying, "Caution! Please Open Door Slowly."
The problem with this safety sign is it had sharp corners. A community member attempting to open the door with the palm of his hand received a laceration as he contacted the corner of the sign. Yes, folks, the safety sign injured someone.
To this day, I always open doors slowly. Why? Because I remember this experience. Remember to include why a behavior is essential when looking for a change. Most people remember stories and pictures, not facts and figures.
"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world." - Philip Pullman
"Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why." - Bernard Baruch
"Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why." - Hunter S. Thompson
Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.