One of the things I talk about during training sessions is about how it is important to differentiate between issues that can be viewed in shades of grey – and those that are black and white.
It makes sense to create clear, unambiguous frameworks in which we can operate, some issues being non-negotiable, such as tying in when working at height, protecting your head by wearing a helmet – and yes, not using top handle saws one-handed. These examples are absolutely clear cut and therefore black and white.
Many other issues can be debated back and forth, how do you do this or what device do you use to do that… these matters are subjective and may therefore differ from person to person. In that respect they come in shades of grey, rather than absolutes.
The point I attempt to convey in training is the importance of not creating a sense of laisser faire by differentiating between “public” and “private” settings.
What do I mean by that? And why the hell am I talking French?! Bear with me…
One day you might be pruning a 12 meter Maple in a back yard, nobody around, just a quick pruning job… so you free climb up to the top, do not bother with the helmet and just bosh it out.
The next day you are in the main square of your town with two big Plane trees to prune. It is a high-profile job as it has been discussed back and forth in the local press: the local TV station and newspaper are there, people have come to watch the work being done and so you do everything according to the book, perfect signage with all the safety measures in place, climbing exactly as you should.
In the examples above, essentially what you are doing is that you are creating a difference depending upon the setting in which you are performing work – when actually the same rules should apply regardless of where you are and how many people are – or are not – watching you. Anything else creates distracting static noise and unnecessary confusion, because where do you draw the line, when do you do everything according to the book and when can you afford to be sloppy? My suggestion is just to do it right straight off and by doing so to avoid any uncertainty.
Making a difference between public and private settings? Hold on, now that rings a bell…
Reading some of the banter being offered up on social media can be quite upsetting. The language used is frequently fiercely sexist and homophobe, which bothers me a lot (not generalising here, this is just based on some “discussions” I have stumbled across these past few months). It does matter how you behave, contrary to popular belief, this is not a private setting or you local bar and therefore you are representing our industry. Our industry, which is chronically lacking in female representation (except if you are lucky enough to live in Finland, I suppose), really cannot afford to out itself in this fashion. Rather we should be making every effort conceivable to show ourselves to be welcoming, inclusive and open.
So, whether we are working or chatting on-line, I suggest that we attempt to maintain a professional and respectful attitude, which does not exclude having fun, but does sometimes require just a moment of self-reflection before charging in.