Step Back 5 by 5

Safety First

Step Back 5 by 5 is a safety slogan that we used at work for quite a few years. I pretty much laughed at this and made fun of it the whole time. But recently an incident happened that made me take it and some things, not just at work, but in my daily life more seriously.

I work in a machine shop and the theory behind this slogan is that each day before you start a job you step back 5 feet and take 5 minutes to assess the job for safety concerns. See if there are any precautions that need to be taken or something that may be an unsafe practice. I did use this procedure on new jobs or something that was unfamiliar or large parts where you could get into trouble. But for the everyday mundane tasks that I go through all the time I pretty much blew it off so to speak.

Well, one day back in November I was cutting small tubing on a large power fed bandsaw. I have been running these types of large saws at two different companies for 45 years. This was something that I was very familiar with and had done most of my life. I trimmed about a quarter of an inch off the end of a new section of tubing and it didn’t clear the saw path before the machine started to feed out the next piece. I reached down with my index finger to sweep the piece out of the way, something I have done thousands of times over the years with no problem. Except this time. I got my finger caught in the gap and pulled through the saw blade. Almost cut the end of it off and the blade cut into the bone. Well, off to the doctor we went.

In today’s world when you have a recordable injury there are reports, paperwork, conference calls, follow ups to the incident and a hundred other things to assess why it happened and how to prevent it from happening again. When this was initially reported they asked my Manager if it was a new employee or if it was the first time I had run the machine. When he answered no to both questions they said it sounded like we had a “Culture Problem.” I initially took exception to that but then I thought they were right. I had gotten complacent about something that I had been done thousands of times over many years and what I had been doing was wrong. Just because you have done something forever and had no problem with it does not make it correct. Since realizing this I have taken a fresh look at the way I do a lot of things in the shop now. I have reassessed some procedures that I do and changed them because there were ways I could have been injured in those processes as well.

The Step Back 5 by 5 theory is something that should be used in the shop when I work, but then I thought, how about my everyday life? What have I done lately in my daily life and relationships that I need to step back and re-examine? What have I become complacent about just because I have done the same thing for years? What about my marriage and relationship with my wife? My kids and grand-kids? What about my relationship with God? Are there things that I’m neglecting with them or taking for granted just because they are always there, or do I do the same things all the time without thought because nothing bad has happened? One of my favorite parts of the birth narrative of Jesus is from Luke. After Jesus was born and everyone had come to the manger scene Luke 2:19 says: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Pondered is a great word. It means to think about something carefully or to focus one’s thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply. We need to do more of that. Treasure up the people and relationships in your life and your relationship with God. Step back a moment, spend some time in prayer and see if there are things you may be doing to those people or relationships that are unsafe and could cause great grief in your life. Just because nothing has happened yet does not mean you’re not taking some things for granted. Someone once said complacency is the death of faith. It can be the death of faith and a lot of other things as well. In the end a cut finger and 6 weeks of healing might be the least of your worries.

If you don’t know Jesus and want to talk about how you can have a relationship with Him, just click the Contact Me link at the top of the site page and I’d be happy to talk with you.

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