Consequences of Split-Second Decisions

Many years ago I was visiting the San Francisco area. While there, I wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge from a vantage point that was on the other side of a heavily traveled highway which had multiple lanes of traffic going in both directions. I stood and analyzed whether or not I could make my way across the highway on foot. I didn’t want to have to drive away and find an exit where I could return to the other side. I couldn’t believe how much traffic there was but decided to risk running across the highway. I was young, athletic and single at the time.

The goal was across the highway - a great view of the bridge and the surrounding area - and I was determined to get there. I was focused on what I needed to do. I watched the traffic going back and forth and then made a split-second decision to dash across one direction of the traffic when there was a brief lull. I got to a narrow median. It became immediately obvious to me that I was standing dangerously close to fast moving traffic from both directions. Twice someone honked their horn excessively at me which was startling and reinforced the fact that I had put myself in a dangerous place. I was sure they probably thought that I was some drunken fool standing in the middle of a highway with nowhere to go.

Being pinned down like that as a result of my split-second decision was not a good feeling. Nearly five minutes went by before I saw a brief opportunity to race across the other lanes of traffic. I had made it to the other side but at what risk? When your heartbeat is elevated and you are in danger, adrenalin is pumping out in the fight or flight scenario. I freely admit that I was foolish to do this and felt even more foolish that day when I later saw a pedestrian tunnel that passes under the highway which I would use to get back to the side where I had parked my vehicle after enjoying the view I had sought. Impulse can be a dangerous thing.

On the one hand, you could say that I only put myself at risk upon making that split-second decision; however, what if I had started to cross the highway and a concerned driver swerved or slammed on their brakes? I very well could have been the causative factor for a chain-reaction accident that resulted in other people being injured or killed. I was fortunate, lucky, call it what you will, that day because neither I nor anyone else got hurt. It was a lesson I never forgot.

And it is also worthy of note that the drivers who honked their horns to display their anger at my presence in the median were also acts that were potentially life threatening to me and others if I had been so surprised as to fall or jump back and thereby create a cascade of reactions.

A single split-second decision that day put many people at risk based on my impulse. The desire for my convenience - to avoid driving past and returning by a different exit to get to the other side of the road - could have had disastrous results.

While active as a Project Safety Manager, one of my greatest concerns had to do with people making split-second decisions without having really thought through the risks and possible negative consequences involved with what they were thinking about. Over the years, numerous “accidents” stemmed from people doing something quickly without having sufficiently thought through the hazards or dangers of the task . . .

For more answers and insight, I invite you to look at my book, Safety Under Construction—A Quest for Safety Perfection Utilizing Inventive Thinking where we discuss in depth the psychological aspects of safety that include how we are affected mental, emotionally and physically. It is a must-read for individuals and anyone who wants to dramatically improve the Culture of Safety within your organization and make great strides for safety success.

Go to: in order to obtain a great sense of this newly published book on safety and risk. You will see a representative preview and reviews of a book that needs to be read, taken to heart and shared. Lives depend on it.

Brion K. Hanks

Retired Safety Manager

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Why Write a Book About Safety?

 Safety is a part of every person’s life, both at work and wherever else we may find ourselves. In fact, safety permeates everything we do. Because of this we cannot, and should not, ever allow safety to take a back seat in the course of our daily lives.

Although plenty has been written about the subject of safety and risk, the lion’s share of modern literature uses a major paradigm that has failed to deliver on its promise of completely eliminating accidents. Therefore, a new paradigm is needed.

When people continue to be injured or killed on the job we must conclude that enough is not being done to keep people safe. While that is an obvious statement, what my co-authors, Scott Burr and Dayna Hubenthal, and I find distressing is that there seems to be a perception or tolerance for some percentage of people that will get hurt or killed in work environments as normal and which cannot be overcome. We categorically state our firm belief that all accidents are preventable.

When looking at “how-things-are” and “how-things-are-not”, from a safety and risk standpoint, some questions are relevant to ask:

  • What level of understanding has really been achieved regarding how accidents occur?
  • Do we take action on all that we know?
  • Can we create a more comprehensive theory about accidents?
  • Is awareness that danger is present enough to prevent accidents?
  • Is there significant knowledge about accidents that exists in more useful ways outside of the construction industry?
  • When, Where, Why and How do accidents occur?
  • Are resources like psychology, timing, sequence, conditions, space, manpower or hierarchy enough to prevent accidents?
  • Do master patterns exist that inform us as to how accidents occur?
  • What lies beyond the preventative mindset for safety that has real potential to eliminate the last five percent of accidents?

Here are some statistics that you ought to find disturbing and unacceptable: In 2012 the ‘preliminary’ job fatalities statistics are sobering. The U.S. Dept. of Labor and Industries National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (people killed on the job) recorded 4,551 fatality accidents in 2009; 4,690 deaths in 2010; and 4,609 people killed in the workplace during 2011. Further, nearly 4 million people suffered an injury in the workplace each year. Think about that: 13,850 fatality accidents and nearly 12 million people injured during those three years. And this is just in the United States. We categorically state, if one person is injured or dies, that is one too many.

A new book on safety and risk will expand your safety perspective like no other. You will not be able to look at the subject of safety in the same way again after reading this book. One key thing that you will learn is how to conquer what is called Psychological Inertia, which is a natural function of the brain and of every mindset. It is responsible for how we currently see the world and how difficult it may be to see the world in a new way.

Psychological Inertia is the “momentum” of the way we think.  In depth, we discuss how to overcome psychological inertia in our book, Safety Under Construction—A Quest for Safety Perfection Utilizing Inventive Thinking where we discuss in depth the psychological aspects of safety that include how we are affected mentally, emotionally and physically. It is a must-read for individuals and anyone who wants to dramatically improve the Culture of Safety within your organization and make unlimited strides for safety success.

Review and remember: in order to obtain a great sense of this newly published book on safety and risk. A representative preview and reviews of the book are presented that need to be read, taken to heart and shared. Buy the book! Share it. Make a greater safety difference. Truly, lives depend on it.

Brion K. Hanks

Retired Project Safety Manager and

Safety Sentinel

The Heartbeat of Authentic Safety Must Never Cease

Ryder has Glasses 002

Look, there are no shortcuts for achieving quality safety. Was I mixing disciplines with that statement? No! The fact is safety mediocrity is what is mostly found throughout far too many industries where people labor to create whatever. That mediocrity comes largely in the form of lip service paid by companies, managers and frontline supervisors. The lingering result is that people continue to be injured or killed in work environments. So, I get it when I say there needs to be “quality safety”. And, unequivocally, there does!

A question for you, the reader, is who believes that all “accidents” are preventable? A real safety leader needs such belief if they hope to effect the change necessary to achieve Safety Perfection. Now you might ask or think, what is the definition of a safety leader? Without a doubt a portion of the definition involves someone who has a compelling passion and laser-like focus on a singular purpose which is that people go home safe each and every day. Further, a safety leader accepts responsibility for his or her safety under all circumstances. Additionally, and as important, a safety leader will hold anyone and everyone accountable when any safety infraction is observed or reported. Additionally a safety leader exhibits a constant safety attitude that boldly demonstrates by their individual words and action that they will put safety first, and safety always as their constant aim. A real safety leader walks their talk today, tomorrow and beyond. They champion Safety Perfection like a zealous guardian who survives in order to live and breathe such perfection, which allows for it to rub off on everyone who comes in contact with them.

The primary purpose of my book Safety Under Construction, which I co-authored with Scott Burr and Dayna Hubenthal, is to assist you in saving lives and reducing injuries in all work environments. For me, that will never change. I ask that you read this book with an open mind and then choose to implement those things described therein as a means to help you facilitate building upon a concerted effort to improve your safety program. Know this, company size does not matter. What does matter is real and long-lasting safety success across the board. Then think and share it.

You see, two things continue to remain true. Far too many people are injured and or killed in the workplace. Stronger safety leadership is a beginning remedy. So I close this blog by leaving you with the following. The metal of a real safety leader is tempered to withstand any type of onslaught that seeks to compromise safety in the workplace. I ask that you be such a person and truly make a safety difference. Remember, Safety Perfection is the daily goal. You have but to do your part to make it so.

Brion K. Hanks

Safety Sentinel

To Save Lives and Reduce Injuries

Your knowledge, experience and sincere safety effort can and needs to be instrumental in saving lives. Read and then employ the book Safety Under Construction as a new tool in your safety arsenal. You will come away from reading this book by looking at safety differently. Why? Because the primary purpose of this book is to save lives and reduce injuries. Your thought processes, plus your caring power, will lead you to relentlessly pursue Safety Perfection because it is the right thing to do today, tomorrow and always.

BLOG-1This fact cannot be ignored, it’s real people who get killed or injured in all types of work environments. For far too long, just in the United States along, thousands die and millions of people are injured year after year after year. As motivational speaker Tony Robbins says, “The past does not have to equal the future.” In this moment, I categorically say to you, all “accidents” are preventable! Did you get that? Do you believe it? Your belief system is vital when it comes to utilizing safety as a system in order to achieve a paradigm shift where you fully embrace prevention as the only acceptable daily goal.

Many years ago my Dad asked me, “Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution?” I pose the same question to you and it is my hope that you take it to heart and truly reflect on your position regarding workplace safety. It’s a simple question that can be answered by way of embracing the tools found in this safety book and then standing resolute beside me and my belief that all “accidents” are preventable.

Safety Under Construction is a distinctive and compelling book that can be a premiere safety tool which I would hope you will boldly share everywhere within your sphere of influence. To this end, use a resolute passion which becomes so infectious that all who come in contact with you will get that you firmly believe all accidents are preventable and Safety Perfection can be achieved day in and day out.

I’m not writing about some grandiose utopian vision like you can “save the world” here. The fact is we can only do what we can, individually, wherever we find ourselves, but what stands most paramount is in our doing everything we can to make a safety difference day in and day out. Phased differently, talk the talk and then really walk the walk. To that end, be all that you can be in the admirable pursuit of achieving the only acceptable thing there is in all work environments, i.e., every worker going home safe each and every day!! That is Safety Perfection!


Brion K. Hanks

Safety Sentinel

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