Just last week I had the pleasure of working with one of NATA’s member companies in their annual trainers conference. The event was held in a hotel meeting room just like thousands of training events are every year. I had just finished a PowerPoint presentation and was about to engage the group in an activity. I replaced the note pad that had been setting in front of the projectors lens to block the light (I didn’t want people distracted) and began the activity.

After a couple of minutes, I noticed one attendee had a strange look on his face. When I acknowledge him he asked “Do you smell smoke?” A few other attendees said they smelled it also. We quickly began searching for the source of the smell.

It turns out that when I set the note pad in front of the projector (the way I found it before my presentation)it just barely touched the lens. The heat off the lens of the projector had begun to burn the note pad, enough so that people in the room could smell the burning!

Since we caught this before a fire started, it was amusing. Here we were talking about safety and training and I almost started a fire in a hotel. The reality is even that little bit of smoke could have set off the hotel fire alarm and caused the building to be evacuated. Who knows what would could have happened if the notepad had caught on fire!

I share this because I am holding on to part of that notepad as a reminder; a reminder that we should never take safety for granted.
notepadIn retrospect, I should have known better than to put a notepad in front of a projector. I did it because I found it that way when I arrived. Not a great job of being an active participant in safety management, I completely failed to independently look for hazards. I think it is important to train our teams to always be on the lookout for hazards and not just to accept that someone else has identified and reported a possible hazard. We want our team members to take an active role in looking at what they do every day with a critical eye towards identifying hazards.

Luckily for me, the situation was discovered before the hotel alarm went off. A ramp is a much more dangerous place that a hotel meeting room and having your team actively looking for hazards and providing them an easy way to report those hazards is invaluable for a safe operation.

Submitted by Michael France, NATA Director of Safety and Training

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