Plan on Going Home Tonight

Do you plan on going home tonight? 

It’s probably something you don’t really consider as you go about your day. And if someone asked you, you might think, “What a weird question,” and then say, “Yes, of course.” 

But stop for a moment. Think about those words: Do you plan on going home tonight? You come to work, you do the job, and then you walk back out that door to go home. But in between entering and leaving, you did what? Hoped you would make it home? 

Hope is not a plan. In fact, not having a plan is exactly what puts us on the path to an accident. So often we hear someone say, “I wasn’t planning to have an accident,” yet they are still happening. So, if we are planning on going home tonight but accidents keep happening, where is the disconnect? 

You see, when we plan, we improve the probability that we can achieve what we want. We plan our vacations, we plan our holidays, we plan for our retirement and so forth. When we drive, we plan for potential slippery road conditions, traffic and work zones. At work, we have work plans, strategic plans, training plans, emergency action plans … you get the idea. In fact, conducting a job briefing is a plan for how we are going to do the job. And yet I doubt you have ever thought, “If I follow all of the actions in this job briefing, I know I can go home tonight.” We just don’t think of it that way. The point is, we are making a lot of plans every day. But are you planning to go home tonight?

If having a plan improves the outcome, then why wouldn’t we have a plan to make sure we go home tonight? Why aren’t we asking ourselves every day, “What is my plan to ensure I go home tonight?” It’s not about what you have to do or that someone is making you perform these actions. This is about your safety! 

A Three-Step Plan

We just can’t leave our safety to chance anymore. The safe actions you perform today will take you home tonight. Now it’s time to make your three-step going-home plan.

Step 1: Complete this statement as you enter the doors of your workplace and begin your workday: I plan on going home tonight and this is why: Today, I am going to ______________.

You can fill in the blank with statements such as:

  • Conduct a walkaround of my vehicle before I move it each time.
  • Put on my chainsaw chaps anytime I use a chainsaw.
  • Follow all the steps for de-energizing a line.

Step 2: Share your plan with your peers by selecting one of the two methods below:

  • At the start of each day, during your job briefing, have each crew member state what their going-home plan is for the day. Then work to hold each other accountable.
  • Ask one person each day to share their going-home plan during the job briefing, and then all crews commit to doing that action for the entire day. 

Step 3: At the end of the day, check in with yourself and think back on how you did. Evaluate if it was difficult to perform the specific action for the entire day. If so, it might be a clue that you have drifted from a safe work practice. This awareness can remind you of what you need to work on and bring forth a renewed commitment to your personal safety. 

Conclusion

If we can implement our going-home plan, then we can slowly change our work practices into safer work practices. It’s not that you aren’t already being safe; it’s all about having you be safer. In fact, your going-home plan actions are probably not something new or revolutionary. Most likely they are actions you are already doing or are supposed to do; they are your safety rules. However, we are human and complacency sets in; we drift. We may not be following all of the rules all of the time. By implementing a going-home plan, you can begin to acknowledge if some form of complacency is present and change that before an accident happens.

Having a going-home plan resets your safety actions because now you are making plans to go home tonight. You aren’t leaving it to chance anymore. Instead, you are thoughtful about your going-home plan each and every day. So, when someone asks you if you plan on going home tonight, you can reply, “Absolutely! And here is what I’m going to do to ensure that happens …” 

About the Author: Lidia Dilley Jacobson is the director of safety and loss control for the Minnesota Rural Electric Association, which serves 50 rural electric cooperatives in Minnesota. She is an experienced safety professional with 36 years in the industries of explosives, nuclear and electricity, and her work has involved technical, compliance-based and managerial responsibilities. Jacobson’s last 16 years have been focused on the electrical industry.

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