What’s the Correct Pace for Workplace Safety

By Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

One of the most common admonishments in the field of safety is to take it slow. Stop being in a hurry and you will have less chance of getting hurt. I have believed in that thinking for many years.

But today I do not know if it is always true.

I think most things in life have a safe pace and it is our job to learn what that pace is for each activity we do. Some things need to be taken slow or even slower. Other activities might naturally move faster because there is much to be done, and we cannot waste time.

Think about an assembly line. It moves at a pace to get the product finished in an efficient, productive, and safe manner. Too slow and not enough product may be produced. Too fast and the product might be damaged or employees could be injured.

Think about a craftsman. Oftentimes, the work is performed meticulously, at a sufficient pace to achieve artistic excellence, to create a masterpiece.

Oftentimes, the more experience we have in doing a given task, the faster that task can be accomplished because we become more proficient.

Pace can mean the rate at which something is done or the tempo of a given activity. Each song has its own optimal pace. Sung too fast and it becomes meaningless. Sung too slow and it becomes boring.

A friend of mine was an insurance company claims adjuster. She worked diligently with all involved parties to achieve optimal and accurate outcomes. It took intense research and coordination to achieve successful results, and that is what she achieved. On the other hand, the company had a quota system that wanted quantity rather than quality. They wanted her to speed through the process. The number of claims completed was the goal. She never did achieve what they wanted.

Our job is to learn the most productive, efficient and safe pace of each task that is completed within our work environments. The task will be completed in a manner best suited for the situation.


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