May 23, 2019

Don’t deviate from your plan

Adopted from a “Toolbox Talk” by Safety Manager Caswell Sewell

In October of 2011, I was helping a friend cut a tree I could see would pose an issue with the way large branches hung over the house. My friend had climbed up and straddled a large branch to tie a rope so I could pull it away from the house.

That’s when the plan started to change. Instead of climbing back down to cut the tree he decided to make the cut while straddling the branch. When he asked me to tie a rope to the saw so he could lift it up I told him I was not comfortable with him cutting the branch that way. After a back and forth discussion I gave in. It was a decision I will regret for the rest of my life.

As he cut the branch it split, sprang back and struck him in the face. I watched him fall 15 feet to the ground and saw the running saw land on top of him. I ran to him and knocked the saw away. He was not breathing. His face was severely fractured. I began performing CPR when he coughed. “Thank God!” I sighed.

My friend is alive because I knew and was able to perform CPR. But he nearly died because I gave him permission to deviate from the plan.

Safety only works if you are not afraid to say “NO!” to changed in a plan that you know could endanger life or limb.