This post brought to you by Worksafe Victoria
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Many moons ago, I worked as a barmaid for a few bars and clubs. I was a really, really good barmaid. The old guys used to wave the barmen away so only I would serve them. They'd ask me inappropriate questions. I loved it.
One day, I was working at the Red Cow Hotel in good old downtown Penrith. I had the back bar all to myself .. it was called Fitzy's. People used to come in for cocktails at 10am in the morning ... hey, who was I to judge? This particular morning, a guy came in carrying a bag and ordered a beer. I poured him one, he paid for it, and walked outside. About ten minutes later, my manager came screaming in to my bar and busted me eating hot chips.
"THERE'S A GUY WITH A GUN OUTSIDE SHOOTING THINGS! COME AND SEE!!"
My manager was a real tool, and younger than me. What happened next has puzzled me for years … I ran outside to take a look.
Like a sheep. Just because somebody - my manager - told me to. Actually, the entire place emptied and ran outside. So I guess it somehow made it safe?
I couldn't see anything, disappointed I'd missed all the action. The dude who I'd *just* served a beer to had gone into the adjoining tax building. He never actually shot anyone, just waved his gun in the air and let it off a few times.
Walking back in, I saw a customer walking out of the cool room. I thought he was stealing stuff, but no. He said to all of us .. "So, somebody tells you there's a gunman outside and you run out to take a look? ARE YOU CRAZY?"
It didn't feel like the wrong thing to do at the time, because everybody else was doing it. And we all know that when everybody else does something, it makes it ok. Right?
WorkSafe recently conducted some public experiments, with actors dressed as electricians asking people to pick up a live wire and pass it to someone. 90% of people did what they were asked.
One in five supervisors admit they would ask their employees to bypass safety to compete a task quickly. One in four supervisors would bypass safety if a $1,000 performance bonus was at stake. People continue to get hurt.
My husband runs his own building business up here in the Blue Mountains. He has up to twelve people working for him at any one time. Building can be risky, and accidents can and have happened. He's bought harnesses, done courses, the OH&S and all the boring things. Then, when he does stuff at home he works like a cowboy and I CANNOT WATCH. I'm going to ask him if he's ever bypassed safety to complete a task quickly, see what he says.
These days, if somebody came running in to tell me there's a gunman outside? There's no WAY I'd run out like I did when I was a red-lipped barmaid in 1994. (I'd just barricade myself near a window and pop my head up. Just to see.)