As I get ready to start my week, I noticed that a Client has asked me to do a safety meeting for the employees on the subject of distractions. Simply put, if you are doing something, ANYTHING, and your brain is somewhere else, the simplest activities can become extremely dangerous.
Even those people who are proud of the ability to multi-task will happily tell of their accomplishments, but will not tell of the increased safety risk they faced to get there. For example, why do we need a sign at the gas pump telling us to stay outside the vehicle until the hose is returned to the pump? Because there is a “difference of potential” (different amounts of electrical charge) between the inside of your car, and the outside of your car. This “difference” means the electrons built up, will try to run to ground, which may cause an electrical arc in the process.
When you first exit the vehicle, you get zapped (especially on a windy day), and nothing happens. The reason nothing happens is because there is no fuel for the arc to ignite.
We know from basic fire safety that the three things needed for a fire to take place are Oxygen, Fuel, and a Source of Ignition. When you hop back in the car after placing the hose in your tank, the difference of potential recharges the person again. This time when they exit the vehicle, they touch the leather arm rest instead of the metal door, which does not allow the electrons to escape. Instead, they wait for you to remove the hose.
Now we have oxygen all around us, we have fuel vapors coming out of the open tank and the end of the hose, and we have the possibility of an arc waiting to happen. Did I really need to get back inside to call someone, or balance the checkbook, while fueling the car? And those of you who leave the engine running, or leave a lit cigarette in the ash tray while performing this simple task….. well that’s really asking for it.
So it’s easy to see that the distraction of being too busy, or the distraction of having to hear your radio, or smoke, while you’re simply putting gasoline in your vehicle can easily lead to serious problems you didn’t need to have. That’s why we need the signs, and rubber insulation wrapped around the hose. Choose your multi-tasks carefully, and remember, “Safety is NOT what we talk about, it’s about what you actually DO”.