A Stunt With a Shark
You’ve heard it in conversation. You’ve probably even said it yourself—someone or something has “jumped the shark.” It’s a common expression, but where did it come from? It’s a fascinating story.
It all began, strangely enough with the popular TV show Happy Days. The show’s first episode aired in January 1974 and the series ran for a full ten years.
Happy Days was pure Americana as it told the story of Midwestern teenager Richie Cunningham, his family and his friends, Potsie Weber and Ralph Malph. But the character who really stood out was Arthur Fonzarelli-The Fonz. Wearing his trademark black leather jacket, the good natured greaser befriends Richie and becomes a friend of the family.
The fateful episode came in the fifth season. In it, the Cunninghams take a vacation to Hollywood with The Fonz. While there, Fonzi accepts a dare to don a pair of water skis and jump over a tank filled with man-eating sharks-while wearing a swimsuit and his black leather jacket of course.
The episode was so contrived and the special effects depicting Fonzie’s jump were so poorly done that it became the low-water mark of the series. As a result, the expression “jump the shark” has come to describe the point at which a sense of routine has set in and quality has begun to decline.
As the now infamous episode shows, complacency can turn up in unexpected places. But when it happens on the job, the consequences are anything but entertaining.
Complacency happens when you think you have all the job experience you need and know all the hazards just because you’ve done a task many times before without getting hurt. That’s dangerous thinking and it leaves you open to injury.
It’s vital to approach every task, no matter how familiar with fresh eyes. Stop and think before you start. Double check the safety procedures. Consider all the possible hazards. As you work, keep your awareness sharp at all times.
After Happy Days jumped the shark, it went on for another five years in decline. But we can’t afford to be in decline on the job. We can’t afford to be complacent, not even for one day, not even in one task. There’s too much at stake—your livelihood, your health, your safety, not to mention your self-respect as a pro. Don’t let your job experience lull you into complacency. Better to bring all your experience to bear on staying safe.
HAZARDS LURK IN COMPLACENT WORK
Stay Alert-Make Caution Your Routine
*Copyright 2011 Harkins Safety (B278)