Be Better Than 'Good Enough'

I never thought I'd be an electrical lineman. Actually, I didn't know what I'd be. When I graduated from college, I was offered a job not talked about by the university's guidance counselor-meter reader at the local utility.

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By Matt Forck

I never thought I'd be an electrical lineman. Actually, I didn't know what I'd be. When I graduated from college, I was offered a job not talked about by the university's guidance counselor-meter reader at the local utility. In my job search leaving college, I expected a high paying corporate job, but, since I was broke and the meter reader job was my only offer, I took it. A year later I was promoted to lineman.

Being a lineman was fun, tough, challenging and cool. It was climbing poles and teamwork. It was cool tools, big trucks and heavy materials. It was sore muscles and good, honest work. It was trust in another, touching 7,000 volts and good planning. It was safety.

A bond connects linemen. It's a bond strengthened from the extreme hazards inherent in the job. For linemen, one simple mistake or oversight can mean an injury or even death to them or another on the crew. To that end, I learned safety from the first day. One concept taught was the idea of "good enough."

In line work, good enough is not enough to ensure safety. Good enough means we can do things safe 99.9 percent of the time. In line work, that small percent we didn't account for will be the one thing that can get someone hurt or killed. I once saw a poster that noted what would happen if other professionals such as doctors, bankers, pilots or pharmacists accepted a good enough or 99.9 percent effective attitude. If we accept 99.9 percent from these professions, then we are accepting one hour of unsafe drinking water every month, two unsafe plane landings per day at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, 16,000 pieces of mail lost by the U.S. Postal Service every hour, 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions per year, 500 incorrect surgical operations each week, or 22,000 checks deducted from the wrong bank accounts each hour.

Helen Keller once said: "When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life or in the life of another." Do your best-100 percent!


About the author: Matt Forck, CSP and JLW, leads safety conferences, seminars and keynote presentations on safety's most urgent topics including leadership, accountability and cultural change. A noted speaker, Matt is a former journey line worker and member of a utility safety staff. Matt also has published six books and dozens of articles. Contact Matt and learn about free resources, or inquire about having Matt speak at your next event at www.safestrat.com.

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