By Mike Schultz, Director of Safety & Human Resources

My 10- year-old son and I attended a visitation/celebration of life for the father of one of his best friends. His death was very unexpected. When I learned of his passing, I wasn’t entirely sure I would take my son to the visitation. I decided to let him make the decision. Over the weekend we talked about it and concluded that we would not go but would send a card and a note. Sunday evening, my son said that he changed his mind and would like to go. So I said, “Okay” and that was it; we were going.

I thought a lot about this and wondered what had changed his mind. I was curious. So on our way to the funeral home, we talked about what to expect and what he should say to his friend. I finally asked him what changed his mind about going to the visitation. His reply blew me away. He said very matter-of-factly, “If anything ever happened to you, I sure don’t know what I would do. But, I know I would want at least one friend there with me.” I didn’t know what to say. We rode in silence the rest of the way.

This experience has put my mind into a spin.

As I tried to figure out the lesson to be learned from this unfortunate loss, I started to think about the many risks we face every day. Risks that could quickly change your life and the lives of those who love you. When you drive down the road and see other drivers texting or not paying attention, it scares you. When you see a news story about construction workers injured in a collapsed trench, it scares you. However, living in fear does not necessarily equate to avoidance of risk. I hear so often that we cannot control the risk. And that risk will always be there. I agree 100% that we cannot control the risk, nor can we completely eliminate the risk. But we can control how we interact with that risk. Do we find ways to safely work around it? Do we find alternative methods that safely avoid the risk? And most importantly, do we pass this knowledge on to those who have not experienced the risk about how to avoid it? Or, do we simply ignore the risk because, “Nothing will happen to me”?

My son could have chosen to not go to the visitation out of fear. Fear of: What will he say to his friend? How will he feel? What will he do? Why did this happen? But he valued his friend. He believed it was more important that he overcome his fears and support his friend than to stay home, believing it’d be too risky to go.

At Vogel Bros., we find deep within our beliefs this ability to overcome our fears and work safely with risk. The belief that all jobsite accidents are preventable – no, that ALL accidents are preventable – gives us control. It can provide the drive we need to find safe, alternative methods to do our work. This belief can push us to thinking, and then rethinking, the actions we take every day. This is the most powerful tool we have today in avoiding risk and preventing all accidents. And what’s most exciting: we have complete control of what we believe.

So as you go about your day, think about this: Are you going to fear the risks? Or are you going to believe you can overcome your fears and work safely with the risks?