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    H&S MESSAGE FOR CONSTRUCTION 2009

    ‘I chose to look the other way’

    This poem by Don Merrell has been around the health and safety scene for some time and remains a good reminder for the start of 2009. The sentiments chime well with the rising interest in ‘behavioural safety’ and the emphasis on all individuals taking responsibility for raising, discussing and acting on health and safety risks throughout your organisation. 

    Don worked in the USA at the J.R. Simplot Co chemical processing plant for nearly 40 years including 18 years responding to emergencies and injuries in the plant. During this time he noticed that almost every injury was due to ‘unsafe conditions or risky behavior’. This prompted Don to write this and other safety poems and limericks.

     

     

     

     

     

    I could have saved a life that day,
    But I chose to look the other way.
    It wasn't that I didn't care,
    I had the time, and I was there.
     
    But I didn't want to seem a fool,
    Or argue over a safety rule.
    I knew he'd done the job before,
    If I called it wrong, he might get sore.
     
    The chances didn't seem that bad,
    I've done the same, he knew I had.
    So I shook my head and walked on by,
    He knew the risks as well as I.
     
    He took the chance, I closed an eye,
    And with that act, I let him die.
    I could have saved a life that day,
    But I chose to look the other way.
     
    Now every time I see his wife,
    I'll know I should have saved his life.
    That guilt is something I must bear,
    But it isn't something you need to share,
     
    If you see a risk that others take,
    That puts their health or life at stake.
    The question asked, or thing you say,
    Could help them live another day.
     
    If you see a risk and walk away,
    Then I hope you never have to say,
    I could have saved a life that day,
    But I chose to look the other way

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