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WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW

Ever heard of the saying  “what you don't know can't hurt you”. I figure the guy who made that up was talking mainly about gossip. But when it comes to knowledge about the job, what you don't know can hurt you — it can kill you.

For instance, there's the machine you've watched a fellow worker operate. It looks interesting—anything is likely to look more interesting than our own work. It looks pretty easy, too. We figure that if Joe can do it, we can.

Maybe Joe is sick, or late to work, or maybe he even asks you to give him a hand so he can take five, not realizing that you aren't a trained operator. You figure, this is the time to run the machine, and that you ought to be able to handle it O.K.

If that temptation ever comes to you — tell old Satan to get back behind you where he belongs. Because any machine which you haven't been properly trained and authorized to run is sure to have some hidden habits that are likely to show up by knocking you for a loop or curling you up around its flywheel or taking hunks out of your hide with its teeth.

There's another kind of not knowing that is plenty dangerous. That's the kind that hasn't anything to do with our training or skill or general intelligence. It's the kind of not knowing that can hit any of us any day.

What I mean is the kind of blank-out that makes us forget that there's anybody else around us, or any other work than our own.

We go plugging along at our own job, not paying any attention to anything, and pretty soon some guy backs a fork lift into our midsection, or drops a pipe wrench on our head, or leaves a skid six inches from the back of our heels.

Going into a daze, or daydreaming, or plain absentmindedness in a plant is almost as bad as going into one of them when you're driving a car.

Our eyes and ears should always be open — and we'd better be sure that our minds are always ready to get the dope the eyes and ears pass on. Otherwise, what we don't know is likely to hurt and hurt plenty.

 

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