What is a “Safety Nerd”?
Odd name for a website, I know. It was my wife who came up with it. I don’t mean she named my blog directly, I mean she calls me a safety nerd. So… what is a safety nerd? Does that mean I walk around with a bicycle helmet and bubble wrap pants? No, of course not. Not in public anyway.
A long time ago, I was the guy you would see in your neighborhood using a weed eater while wearing shorts and flip-flops. No eye protection, hearing protection or any other kind of protection, for that matter. One particular Saturday afternoon, as I zipped along ensuring the edges of my yard were uniform, a piece of debris flew up at lightening speed and struck my cheek just below my left eye. I let go of the trigger to stop the cords from whirring, not wanting to open up my shins like a pine sapling (I at least had SOME sense). I stood there for a second, reflecting how close the debris had come to hitting me in the eye… before exclaiming to no one in particular, “wow, that was close”, and immediately resumed my chore without any more thought. Well, that is until years later I was scouring the internet for safety related pictures and came across a wonderful shot of a man that had run over his foot with a lawnmower while wearing sandals. My reaction upon seeing such carnage was, “what kind of a moron would mow his lawn in sandals… oh wait”. It made me realize how far I had come. I had since become initiated in the world of safety and now knew better. This brings up a topic I share with my team nearly every meeting, common sense isn’t always common. That’s a topic for another discussion though.
A few years ago, as I was beginning to hit my stride in my safety career, my boys were preparing to do some target practice with their new plastic pellet rifles. As they set up their targets and prepared to don their protective eye wear, the younger of the two exercised his “Stop Play” authority. As my Wife and I watched, the (at that time) nine year old proceeded to explain, quite animatedly, to his older brother that he could not use the eye wear he had chosen because they were not safety glasses. As the elder rolled his eyes, the younger looked in my direction, eagerly seeking vindication. Curious to see how the scenario would play out I asked him why he felt his older brother’s choice of eye-wear was not task appropriate. “Because they don’t have the stamp on the side”, was his response. Now, he didn’t know what the stamp meant exactly but he knew it had to be there for the glasses to be safety rated. I nodded my approval as he shot his older brother a triumphant look. The elder sighed in defeat and headed to the garage to seek a more appropriate level of eye protection. My wife looked over and could easily read the pure joy and pride I felt. “You’re such a safety nerd”, she said, affectionately.
A safety nerd indeed. It’s a term I embraced quickly (as safety is not the only area to which my “nerd-ness” applies) and even use with pride. So why did I decide to use it for the name of my site? Because I feel like it best represents my enthusiasm for the profession. I believe that enthusiasm is contagious (see story of son with safety glasses) and with enough of us out there, we can make the work place, home place and play place continually safer… and maybe have some fun along the way. So there it is. Enjoy!