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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SAFETY
By Howard Ford

Remember the inner voice you hear before an "accident" occurs. The warning thoughts in our hears may keep occurring in an effort to get the conscious mind to heed the warning. The subconscious Red Light may last only a split second, about the length of time it takes a table saw to remove a finger.

Our subconscious mind always has our best interest at heart. That inner mind has common sense and knows things that are dangerous. It is quite possible that an educated and uninhibited subconscious mind gives out a warning before every accident that we cause. If we have provided our mind with a reasonable amount of safety training then the subconscious mind will always direct us toward safety.

A Question To Be Ponder:

If our subconscious mind has given us a warning and an injury occurs as a result of ignoring that warning, can we call it an accident? If we are warned that the stove is hot and we ignore the warning and put our hand on the stove, is the burn an accident?

What do the warnings sound like?

They may come as a question or as statement. They may come as a shout of emergency or they may be casual, gentle and without excitement. Following are some warnings I have heard.

My hands are too close!

I should use a dusk mask!

Is the machine (saw, grinder, router) adjusted correctly?

If the drill bit bends it will hit my hands!

If it (emery wheel, band saw blade, scroll saw blade, wood on the lathe) breaks it will hit me!

If the drill sticks and the material spins, it will hit me!

It should be held in a jig!

It might hit me in the eye!

The noise is loud enough to damage my hearing!

If the screwdriver slips where will the point go?

If the wrench slips off the bolt where will my knuckles hit?

The fumes are toxic and I should not be breathing them!.

I believe that the warning is always there. I have realized many times, after I have had minor injuries, that I had thoughts about how to avoid the injury a few seconds before it happened. I then realized that if I had stopped instantly, when the warning came, I would not be bleeding.

Conscious response to the red light warning of our subconscious mind.

The subconscious mind speaks clearly and the conscious mind makes many different responses. Far to often, I have failed to hear the warning. I have also failed to heed the warning and I have a lot of small scars to prove it. Here are some of the responses I have made.

I just have this one to do. It would take a long time to build a jig.

It will take too long to clamp the work to the table.

I don't need a push stick for this one.

It is too much trouble to unplug this saw. (When changing blades.)

I'm tired and I have to get this finished.

There is not very much dust in the air, the fan will blow most of it away.

I think I can hold it down.

I only have to make this one little cut.

I know my fingers are close to the emery wheel but I think I can hold this little piece.

I should use the machine's guard but it is in the way.

I don't have any gloves and I hate wearing that big old filter mask. (While using toxic materials)

I know my fingers are too close so I will be extra careful.

I see a lot of dust in the air but I will be finished soon.

A person with a hard driving conscious mind, that tends to deny dangers, may have difficulty listening to the subconscious warnings. A mind that is consumed with negative emotions (anger, hurt, fear, etc.) will be out of balance when it comes to communicating the warnings to the conscious mind. A mind that is under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs and some medications will have an impaired ability to communicate the warning and/or heed the warnings.

If one is focused on the task at hand and remains open to all the safety factors then the warnings may be heard and corrective action taken. Manufacturer's safety warnings are of value only if the conscious mind works in harmony and cooperation with the subconscious mind.

Fear of the machine is not the answer. The truth is, fear can become a risk. A mind limited by fear does not have the balance needed to give and heed the warnings. A mind that is distracted by strong emotions and thoughts should stay out of the shop.

When we walk into the shop, there needs to be a conscious commitment to listen to the subconscious warnings. The answer to the warnings needs to be, "I will immediately take appropriate action and work safely?" A mind, that has accepted the safety rules and heeds it's own warnings, can operate safely.

I AM THE BEST SAFETY DEVICE I HAVE.

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