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There are pep talks and there are pep talks.

Over the years, I've had the privilege of observing pep talks all day long on seismic crews, construction sites, production platforms, processing plants, wire line, drilling operations, rig moves and so on. But not once have I left not feeling maybe the crew could have done better with the shape and content of the core messages thereof. This is because I am of the view that safety messages are only helpful if they are clear and to the point, with little or no ambiguity, if any at all. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Now 5-minutes is not a great deal of time for even the most gifted and skillful of speakers to nail  home  the key safety dos and don'ts of the job soon to commence. So most of these talks frequently average out to be sing songs and prayerful affairs in the end, with generalized 'messages' like be 'your brother's keeper', 'safety is everybody's business', 'you all know what to do', blah, blah, blah. Oh, really? If they knew what to do  then why waste the precious five minutes? Why not simply let them off on their way to go do what they know how to do best? Why don't they just drain their cups of tea and coffee and step out gallantly to go be their brother's keeper since safety is everybody's business? Why not?

Truth is it doesn't work that way. You see, to make that 5-minutes productive and worthwhile, hazards of the impending job must be isolated, stripped of jargons, examined in the detail to remove doubts and uncertainties. Doubts and uncertainties regarding what to do, who's to do it, when and where, with what and how, must be clearly addressed, otherwise complications may set in and safety of man, operation and the environment could be compromised with telling results. Workplace downgrading events occur round the clock mostly due to the fact that at some critical point in time, employees hit that mental blank space where they're lost as to what to do next to proceed safely, the rest as they say becomes history, in the aftermath of what is commonly referred to as an accident.

Pep talks should therefore stress the essentials of job safety, job organization, job interface, teamwork for a common objective, job competence, tool selection and use,  communication, supervision, etc. Prime objective of any pre-job talk should be to arm the crew with helpful point-of-application safety tips to ensure the task is accomplished safely and in time. Generalizations, prayerful exhortations and celestial injunctions have their places but certainly not in a pre-job 5-Minute Safety Pep Talk.


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