A few years back on my first tour of duty in the “developing economy” where I work I attended a Safety Meeting where, much to my surprise, at the very beginning of the meeting everyone stood up with outstretched right arms and started to recite a “pledge” to work safely for self, family, the nation and community at large.
Now ordinarily I accept that this sort of ritual (like the puja*) is beneficial in safety promotion but then I came to a realisation that this “Safety Pledge” is really a load of drivel…
It may have meant something to those people around that meeting table for a few seconds at most but I wager that as soon as they all sat down the devotion to safe working practice was the furthest thing from their minds… I personally was feeling a sort of uneasiness that the managers and those above them might actually think that this is a good practice in their safety regime..
A few months later I was attending a “Safety Week” event (something else I do not entirely believe in) and surprised that their pledge was repeated no less than four times, one for each language represented in the site (Hindi, Tamil, Chinese and English).
I wonder if any of the participants in the chanting of the pledge, really, and I mean really, believe that there is a half-penny worth of value in doing it.
Now the “Puja” to me that is another issue… In this case it is related to a religious belief that a particular deity will protect the equipment or operation from harm or misfortune… My humble opinion is that because this is done before a particularly hazardous piece of work, it focusses the people’s minds on the task ahead making everyone more alert to dangers; indeed I often participate in the puja when requested to do so. I do however still resist sticking out my right arm and reciting a load of crass nonsense in the hope that safety will improve
*Puja – a religious ceremony used for a variety of reasons but in construction it is practiced before a particular hazardous task or when commissioning a system, to bring good fortune and safety