Grasshoppers and Glass Jars

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A couple of summers ago, I came home from work to find a broken glass jar in the garbage can. After asking the right questions to the right people I discovered that my youngest son, six years old at the time, and his friend decided to capture and collect grasshoppers. After getting more than they could hold in their hands, they went to my wife for some type of container to contain them. In her unassuming benevolence she gave them the glass jar. Before going further I need to stress that I love my wife very much but we view risk very differently. I remember how I was when I was young and I would not have entrusted a younger me with a glass jar until I was much older than six.  

As this story continues, I discovered that after capturing and collecting about 50 grasshoppers they became bored with just watching them. That was when the great idea of rolling the jar down the backyard slide came up. The two young boys would send the jar rolling down the slide and then watch the dizzy grasshoppers crawl all over each other. This was great fun until on the third trip down the slide the jar broke. The breaking of the jar left us with two situations that were certainly not appreciated. The first was two six-year-old boys and a pile of broken glass at the bottom of the slide. The other was much less alarming, but no one wants a horde of grasshoppers in their backyard. Luckily, the boys decided it was time to involve a parent. They told my wife that the jar had broken and she immediately went to the back yard and picked up the glass.  

A situation like the one above goes to waste if we cannot learn from it. I discussed the situation with my wife and she agreed that six year old boys should not be entrusted with glass jars. Hindsight is 20/20. I went to my son and we talked about what happened. I explained to him that he failed to acknowledge or respect the risk in which he was entrusted. Much of this had to do with his age and his lack of life experiences. We looked at the final outcome and how we could avoid this consequence in the future.  

In our different work environments there are risks that are more easily recognized by an experienced eye. We need to share our thoughts on these risks with others so they can acknowledge and respect the risks as we do. Providing insight in an effort to eliminate incidents and injuries is the ideal situation. It saves time, money and often pain and misery. The way these insights are presented many times makes them easier to understand and follow.  

I would recommend the book Safety 24/7 by Gregory M. Anderson and Robert L. Lorber, Ph.D. This book outlines a process to voice concerns and getting others to internalize and embrace safe work practices. I would also recommend that employers and managers take the time and effort to review all incidents and injuries in a “Post Incident Analysis”. Every incident and injury can provide information as to how to avoid the same situation in the future. It also gives employees an opportunity to think about processes and provide ideas on how to complete tasks in a safer and more efficient way.  

Safety and parenting are very much alike. When we truly care for the individuals we are working with, we will go to great lengths to keep them safe from harm and injury. 

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