We all know someone is about to do something incredibly stupid when they say, “Hold My Beer!” While one person takes responsibility for protecting the tasty beverage, other spectators (aka: friends & family) pull out their phones to record the spectacle about to take place. Who knows, the video may even go viral. If everyone is lucky, the star of the video will survive unscathed. Less lucky, they may have a scar to brag about later. We know how that story goes around the campfire. Starts with something like “Well, we were drinking…” Last and worst of all, is when the result is fatal to one or more people.
So, what does this have to do with safety on the jobsite? Afterall, alcohol and drugs have no place in the workplace. Think about how many times a worker has said one of the following phrases: “It will only take a second”; “We were in a hurry”; or “It would take me longer to set up the other way” (aka: the safe way). Hearing workers say any of these phrases indicates someone is about to take an unnecessary risk. If we are lucky, someone on the crew stops their co-worker and coaches them into doing the task the safe way. Less lucky, they continue the unsafe path and no one gets hurt or there is a minor injury. Worst case, a serious injury or fatality occurs.
The correlations between phrases hit home for me while on a jobsite visit. A small crew and I were discussing the best way to access a ceiling area above building utility pipes and ducts. We ran through all the scenarios to determine the safest process. At one point, one of them expressed they “could have just climbed up and done the task by now”. Afterall, it would “only take a second”. When I replied that was like saying “hold my beer”, we all stopped and looked at each other. It was a lightbulb moment. In that moment, we came to a common understanding of what these “only take a second” type phrases truly mean to our safety.