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May 16, 2018

You will never be able to punish people hard enough to achieve safety. Accidents or negligent incidents do not happen because of a deliberate act, but our of carelessness, ignorance, or improper training. Punishment cannot prevent accidents and it cannot prevent deliberate acts. 


Episode Transcription

[INTRO]

♫ Trenches by Pop Evil ♫

*Alex*

Welcome to Morning Mindset. A daily dose of practical wit and wisdom with a professional educator & trainer, Amazon best selling author, United States Marine, Television and Radio host, Paul G. Markel. Each episode will focus on positive and productive ways to strengthen your mindset, and help you improve your relationships, career goals, and overall well-being. Please welcome your host; Paul G. Markel.


*Professor Paul*

Alright here we go, I am back again, I’ve got a big cup of Sweet Marie’s coffee. It’s actually an Americano, I know, being fancy today. But i’m ready to start, are you ready to listen? *Sip* Today we’re going to talk about Safety through Punishment? I had a good friend of mine, who was actually a law enforcement trainer at the time, a cop, and one of his jobs at the time was to train the rookies, the new guys. He was a field training officer, and then he became an officer in charge of all the department’s training. He offered me a piece of advice that has stuck with me; “You will never be able to punish people enough to achieve safety”.

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You can’t punish people enough to behave in a safe manor, or to stop all accidents or negligent incidents. You say “Oh, in my arena we don’t punish people for negligence or accidents.” Well that may be the case, but riddle me this Batman. Have you ever been in a Military, Government or Manufacturing organization where they keep track of accidents & negligence, and if you have an accident or negligence, you lose pay or you get punished. You may be reduced in rank or what have you. Some sort of punishment was associated with the accident.

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I used to work for the military, as many of you know I was a military contractor, and I worked with several military units in the United States. In the military people are afraid to have accidents or make mistakes, because they’re going to be punished. You say “Oh good, you have that punishment in place, so that will keep people from doing dumb things.” Actually, it doesn’t. If you think about it, an accident or negligent incident didn’t happen because someone set out to do it.

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Let’s say it’s with machinery or firearms or a vehicle, how many of you have actually had a CDL and were an official driver for a company? And if you have X number of accidents, you’re fired. Let’s say you have a commercial driver’s license, and their policy is if you are involved in 3 accidents, you lose your job. 1st one you get a written reprimand, 2nd you get time off without pay, 3rd you lose your job. You say “That’s a good thing. It keeps people from acting poorly.” But you see, an accident or negligence, wasn’t something that someone did on purpose, right?

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It’s because of carelessness or improper training. Now in the case of a driver, let’s say they have a large truck or piece of equipment or what have you. They run into something, or back into something, you say “Ha! That's your first incident, here’s your written reprimand.” When you give them that, does that written reprimand stop that from happening again? You say “Yeah, because they know to never do that again.” But, they didn’t do it on purpose. So how does the written reprimand fix it?

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The reason I’m talking about this is because in America today, Safety is a buzzword. Safety This & Safety That, we need to have laws and rules and punishments for Safety. Hmm, Punishment can never prevent accidents, and it can never stop deliberate acts. If you have somebody who does something based off ignorance or a lack of attention to detail, or improper training. You say “Well what’s your solution Paul? The company can’t say it’s okay to run into things or crash vehicles, that can’t be okay.” You’re right, it’s not okay. The way you reduce the likelihood of a workplace accident or negleicent incident, is not by standing over people’s heads with a stick.

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“If you screw up, I’m gonna hit you.” You know, they’ve got a giant ruler, threaten to whack their knuckles. They’re not doing it on purpose anyway, so all you’re doing is putting people in fear of Error, and what people will eventually do is they just won’t do their job, or do it half-heartedly, or they won’t look forward to it, shall I say. One of the big incidents, I’ll share this with you and it’s actually a tragic incident. In the military if you drop a gun, if you’re on the range and you drop your gun, it’s an automatic disqualification. You’re kicked off the range, they take your gun & your ammo and they kick you off the range.

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Pretty much every standard Military range I’ve been on has had that policy. If you drop your gun (pistol, rifle, shotgun, etc), you get punished. So what are people afraid to do? Drop their guns. You say “Okay good, that keeps people from dropping their guns.” Well, are they dropping them on purpose? Well no, they;re obviously not doing it on purpose? Why would someone drop a gun? Because of gravity, because you’re running too fast, sometimes you just fumble something, right? We had an incident in one of the commands that I was a part of, I wasn’t on the range at the time but I was part of the debriefing. It made me sick to my stomach because it seemed like the whole room worth of people didn’t understand why it had happened.

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The guy was a member of the U.S. Navy, and he was qualifying with his Beretta service pistol. He lost control of a gun, no one knows how but the gun started to fall. He was in the middle of what’s referred to as a String of Fire. But he didn’t let it go, because everyone knows what happens if you drop your gun. You fail and they kick you off the range, so the last thing you wanna do is let it hit the ground. So it was falling and in the flash of less than a second, he reached out and snatched at the gun in the air. When he grabbed it, the gun discharges, one of his digits hit the trigger and it discharged into his chest.

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He was dead before they could get him off the range, why? Because he didn’t want to be punished for having an accident. Now the safest way, if you lose control of a firearm, gravity grabs it or what have you, it’s loaded and ready to go, the safest thing is to just let it fall. Have you ever been using a knife *Examples*, and something happened and you lost control of it and it started to fall? Did you snatch at that knife? You may have thought about it for half a second, but then you pulled your hands away and jumped back. Because you know if you grab a falling knife, you’re probably going to cut your hand open.

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That’s what you should do with firearms. So rather than training people, okay rather than focusing on how can we make them better, what we do instead is we think of punishments. Ladies & Gentlemen, you will never, ever be able to punish people hard enough to stop accidents. The way you improve safety is through education and training, you make sure that people have the most skill possible, the most skill & training you can give them. When you do that, the chances of them screwing up, having negligent discharges, carelessness, ignorance, those things go way down.

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You say “Paul, we have all these policies and such for accidents, why would that be if what you say is true?” Because it’s a lot cheaper to come up with Punishment policies that it is to train people. Training people takes time, effort, and a very deliberate act. But coming up with a policy memo that says “Anybody who screws up get suspended” is cheap and makes you look good. So the thought for today is, the next time you hear someone talking about Safety. Safety thing & that, we have all these policies and memorandums for safety. But you’ll never be able to punish people enough to achieve safety.

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The only way to improve safety is to train people, make sure they are educated and have the most skill humanly possible. I know, it’s not easy. Alright ladies & gentlemen, that is it. I know I went a little long this time, but I think you’re worth it. As I’ve said before, all my books are available on Amazon, as paperback & kindle versions. I’d really appreciate it if you checked those out. Just search Paul Markel, and all the books are available there. I am your host Paul Markel, and I’ll talk to you again, real soon.


[OUTRO]

♫ Trenches by Pop Evil ♫

*Alex*

Thank you for spending time with us today. To get show notes, submit a topic request, for more from your host Paul G. Markel, visit MorningMindsetPodcast.com. That’s MorningMindsetPodcast.com. Please leave a review of this podcast on your favorite podcast player, we appreciate your time & effort, and we look forward to reading your honest feedback.