By Randy Logsdon
On Dec. 10, 2010, the Chicago Tribune published a column by John Kass entitled Where Doors Revolve, Ride Poachers Lurk. The holiday piece was a light-hearted look at human behavior in the big city. Having worked for a period on Michigan Avenue, I can relate fairly easily to the concept. Declaring December as National Ride Poaching Awareness Month, Kass both describes and defines ride poaching in the following passage:
Kass states that the phenomenon is “one of the most underreported yet pervasive crimes in the nation.” In his research, he went so far as to collect video of actual ride poachers in downtown Chicago.
Kass adds a bit of caution:
…but two poachers caught in the same revolving door can lead to a strange phenomenon: poacher standoff. The revolving door stops and they’re both stuck there, looking at each other through the glass.
So really, the ride poacher is one who profits off the work of others. We might use the term “freeloader.”
One might ask what happened to the concept of teamwork, pulling together, contributing to the effort, pulling one’s own weight? One might also ask how this relates to safety?
Like so many worthwhile endeavors, safety requires a certain amount of work. Borrowing from the previous paragraph, we must each pull together, contribute to the effort and work to achieve our safety goals. We understand that there are certain things that must be done to achieve production goals. We each contribute by performing those tasks that help to ensure production achievement. We understand also that the quality of the product is important and that specific things must be done to ensure that the quality of the product is maintained. We each know our role in ensuring product quality. None of us wants the reputation as a freeloader.
What about safety? Does it just happen, or do we need to work at maintaining our safety too? Safety will not take care of itself. Safety, like any other worthy endeavor, does require work. And to be successful, safety requires the participation of everyone concerned. Figuratively, as long as that revolving door of safety is turning, we all continue to work accident/injury free. But we must each do our part to keep the door revolving. The safety poacher is the one to watch out for. Too many poachers can lead to consequences much more severe than Kass’ “poacher standoff”. When the safety jobs are not done, people can get hurt.
So, have you identified the safety poachers in your organization? Are you one? Have you ever walked past a hazard without taking action, failed to pick up a stray scrap that could be a slip or trip hazard, put off a guard repair until a more convenient time, failed to remind a coworker about upgrading PPE for a particular job, put off that safety conversation? Have you ever thought to yourself, someone should take care of that or that’s Frank’s job—he’ll get to it later?
More than fixing the hazard, visible participation in safety sets a positive example that others see, and emulate. In a culture where pulling one’s own weight is important, others will contribute if that contribution is recognized as valuable. A simple request for “a little help here” may turn a poacher into a contributor and keep that revolving door spinning.
If, in reflection, your safety efforts seem to be at a standstill, it may be that there are just too many safety poachers out there in the workplace. Just one last bit of advice: Before pointing at others, take a good look in the mirror.