Over the years of growing up in Wyoming and talking with our Wyoming seniors, I’ve noticed Wyoming is changing. While it is not a profound change, it has impacted my life in many ways. This change can be summed up in the phrase “taking home the safety culture”.
Growing up and living in Wyoming can be very satisfying, I found that if you are able to entertain yourself and enjoy the unique attributes of Wyoming, it outweighs the perceived negatives (e.g. the big W). However, when you’re looking to entertain yourself growing up, it is easy to do some stupid and dangerous things that seem like a good idea at the time. This kind of “creativity” doesn’t transfer well to the workplace.
Coming from a ranching family and working construction when I was in high school, safety topics often came to mind only when it was convenient. I felt pretty good occasionally wearing safety glasses in comparison with the safety accident horror stories of Wyoming’s history occurring at infamous dangerous workplaces including mines, refineries, drill rigs, sawmills, and ranches. While this was not exclusively a Wyoming issue, Wyoming definitely had its fair share of dangerous jobs that taught, big risk-big reward.
This all changed when I started working at Inberg-Miller Engineers. Having exposure to doing daily tailgate safety meetings, requirements to wear PPE all the time, discussing near-misses, and going through annual safety training, sold me on the benefits of doing things safely. It gelled with me so much that I took those practices home and teach them to my friends and family. From simple things like lifting properly to using hearing protection, a face shield, and safety glasses when running the chainsaw, taking home the safety culture is changing Wyoming. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to fill out a hot work permit for using my grinder at home or rock a safety harness when cleaning my gutters, my point is that going through the safety processes at work has me in the habit of thinking through a task and its associated hazards and taking appropriate action.
While if my grandpa was still alive, he may have called me a sissy for doing all this safety stuff, “just get it done” he may have said, but I prefer my dad’s lesson “Son, if you want to keep playing guitar, keep your fingers away from the saw blade”. I plan to keep playing guitar and a lot of other things for a long time.