It’s not only brilliant; but it’s also the subject of the most folklore beginning with the Ancient Greeks and continuing to this very day. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is also one of the closest stars to the sun-a mere 8.6 light-years away. It’s not just one star. Sirius is a binary star-two stars so close together that they look like one.
Apart from its astronomical qualities, though Sirius has long been the subject of myth and folklore. Sirius is called the Dog Star because it is the most vivid star in the constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog constellation. The Ancient Greeks believed that Sirius heralded the hot and dry summer-known as the Dog Days of summer.
Because of its intense radiance, the Ancient Greeks thought Sirius was sending out rays or “emanations” that caused people to act strangely. Those suffering from its effects were said to be “star struck.”
The Greeks of the island of Ceos offered sacrifices to Sirius to bring cooling breezes. They awaited the appearance of the star in the summer. If the star looked clear, they believed good fortune was coming. But if it looked misty of faint, they feared pestilence in their crops.
The Ancient Romans also honored Sirius. They celebrated its setting on April 25th with the sacrifice of a dog to the goddess Robigo so that the star’s rays would not harm the wheat crop.
Even today the star is still capturing our imaginations. Author J.K. Rowling, creator of the famed Harry Potter stories, gave Harry’s godfather the name Sirius and the animal form he changes into is a big black dog. Today of course astronomers and scientists see these legends as quaint artifacts from the past. We don’t deal in myths and superstitions. That’s especially true when it comes to safety on the job.
Safety professionals create specific rules and procedures to keep us out of harm’s way. It’s up to us to follow them and to take personal responsibility for staying alert on the job all day, every day. That’s how we create a culture of safety company wide that helps ensure the well-being of every worker. There’s nothing mysterious about it.
While the folklore of Sirius is fun to explore, when it comes to safety we’re all business. Serious about safety is just plain smart.
WE’RE SERIOUS ABOUT SAFETY ARE YOU?
*COPYRIGHT 2008 HARKINS SAFETY B250
The Mind Of A Ninja
When you think of the ninja, you probably think of martial arts fury. But there’s something else about ninjas, it’s their steely mental focus. Yes, the ninja’s mind power is legendary, but where does this power come from?
The art of the ninja is called ninjutsu—a discipline that was developed 1,100 years ago on the Japanese island of Honshu. Ninjutsu involves martial arts training, of course, but even more important is training in mind power.
Ninjas get their mental focus from an esoteric mediation practice called Kuji Kiri or the Nine Hand Seals. When ninjas meditate, they don’t just wile away the time contemplating their navels. First they quiet their minds. Then enter into a deep state of deep relaxation and then they begin.
As they mediate, they make a series of symbolic hand gestures by crossing their fingers over one another in specific patterns. There are nine patterns in all. Each one serves to focus the ninja’s mind. The first hand position for example, focuses the ninja on developing strength in body and mind. The second one helps focus on directing the energy flow within the body. The third hand position directs the mind to complete awareness of the universe. And so on.
With this special form of meditation, ninjas focus their minds like laser beams. They are completely focused. Because they are so focused, their actions become powerful.
Attention. Focus. Mind power. That’s what we want on the job. No, you don’t have the discipline of a ninja, but you can make up your mind right now to approach every task with complete attention to safety.
You can start by taking a moment to focus your mind before you start a task to think about possible hazards and how to avoid them. Then as you are working remind yourself over and over to keep your mind on what you’re doing. If you face a situation that might be a safety risk, remember to stop and think. Simply acting out of instinct or reflex can leave you open to injury.
Your level of attention during your shift determines whether you’ll go home at the end of the day or get sidelined with an injury. Don’t lose your focus. Don’t let frustrations get the better of you. Stay in control. Stay on top of your game. Stay aware and you’ll stay safe.
KEEP MIND ON TASK!!
Your Job Demands It, Your Safety Depends On It!
*Copyright 2011 Harkins Safety B277
Stop the Clock
Is it offense or defense that wins football games? Is it a star quarterback? Is it a Hail Mary play that pays off big? Not always. Truth is, sometimes what wins football games is a whole lot less exciting than spectacular plays or long-bomb passes.
Any coach will tell you. What wins football games is clock management. It’s the essence of football strategy.
Players can greatly influence the pace and outcome of a game simply by how they play. For example, they can play more slowly to use more time. This means ball carriers staying in bounds, quarterbacks not throwing incomplete passes and players huddling before every play.
Or teams can play faster when they want to save time on the clock. Ball carriers can get out of bounds once they’ve made their yardage, quarterbacks can throw as soon as possible after the snap and the offense can skip huddles altogether.
Clock management involves lots of other tactics as well. In fact, it’s so important that an entire book has been written about it -called Football Clock Management-and coaches everywhere are studying it.
They’re studying it because they know that every minute of the game is vital. Since games are four 15-minute quarters (plus timeouts and overtime), the hour or more of play is the sum total of all the team’s tactics.
Just as teams manage their time, we too have to take advantage of every minute and every hour in order to stay safe on the job. Safety is your responsibility.
Think about it. It’s up to you to decide to follow safety rules to the letter. It’s up to you to learn the right procedures and follow them. It’s up to you never to take chances or improvise. It’s up to you always to keep your work area clean and orderly. It’s up to you to make sure safety is included in your workday. Doing that takes good time management, just like winning takes good time management by the coach.
A lot of coaches wait until the end of the half before they start thinking about time management. But in reality, it should be on their minds from the very first play of the game.
Don’t wait until there’s an accident before you start thinking about safety. Make it your priority. Make it your first play of the day.
EVERY MINUTE, EVERY HOUR YOUR SAFETY IS IN YOUR POWER!
*COPYRIGHT 2009 HARKINS SAFETY B263
The Gift of Giving
Did you know that the holiday tradition of collecting donations in the Salvation Army’s red kettles was started by a man who wanted to give a free holiday meal to the poor? Here’s the story.
In 1891 Salvation Army captain, Joseph McFee wanted to give a free Christmas dinner to the San Francisco area’s poor, but he had limited resources and needed a creative solution. McFee remembered his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England where he recalled a large pot being displayed on the stage landing. This pot was called a “Simpson’s Pot” and passers-by would toss in donations of a coin or two to help the poor.
With the city’s permission, McFee placed a similar kettle at the Oakland ferry landing at the foot of San Francisco’s Market Place with the sign ”Keep the Pot Boiling”. In this busy spot, the kettle drew attention from the people going to and from the ferryboats. In no time at all, McFee had the funds to provide a free meal for the needy and a holiday tradition was born.
By 1895 some 30 Salvation Army Corps on the West Coast had adopted the practice. When two Army officers, McIntyre and Lewis were transferred to the East Coast they took the idea with them. Initially they were met with a lack of enthusiasm. Some of their fellow officers feared they would be “making a spectacle of themselves” and refused to support the idea.
Undaunted, William McIntyre, his wife and his sister set up three kettles at Washington Street in the heart of the city. The idea was a success. That year in Boston and other cities nationwide 150,000 holiday dinners were served for the needy.
In 1901, contributions in New York City funded the first great sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a tradition that continued for many years.
Today the needy are still invited to share holiday dinners at the thousands of Salvation Army centers throughout the country. In addition, many poor families are given grocery vouchers so they can prepare their own dinners at home.
Those familiar red kettles remind us of the spirit of giving we associate with the holidays. The best gift you can give your family is your safety every day of the year.
As the holidays draw near, don’t become distracted on the job thinking about holiday parties, spending time with family and friends, buying gifts and putting up decorations. That moment of inattention could lead to an accident. Remember to take extra precautions when driving too. The long hours of darkness, bad weather conditions and drivers who may have had too much to drink require special attention. At home, look for possible fire hazards and use common sense when it comes to candles, fireplaces and holiday decorations. Keep your holidays happy by staying safe on and off the job.
SAFE WORK DAYS BRING HAPPY HOLIDAYS
*COPYRIGHT 2004 HARKINS SAFETY (B190)
The Family Business
Imagine a family business that was founded by an idealistic artisan, twice refused huge grants from the federal government and may never complete its one and only project. Here’s their fascinating story.
In 1948, sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski received a letter from Chief Henry Standing Bear. The letter asked Ziolkowski, who worked on Mount Rushmore, to create a statue of Chief Crazy Horse, a famed Lakota warrior.
Ziolkowski, a self-taught sculptor, accepted the challenge. He moved his wife and ten children from Connecticut to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Together they built a log cabin at the foot of Thunderhead Mountain, the structure out of which the stature would be carved. The family then built a 741-step wooden staircase to the top of the mountain and Ziolkowski inserted four sticks of dynamite. Those 10 tons of granite would be the first of millions to come.
As work continued, he twice refused $10 million grants from the federal government because he feared that taking the money would interfere with his goal of creating a cultural memorial that honors all North American Indians.
The monument has been in progress for over 60 years and is still far from completion. An amazing 8.5 million tons of granite having been removed so far.
When completed, the statue will show Crazy Horse atop his steed with his outstretched arm pointing to the horizon. It will be fully three-dimensional, sculpted entirely out of the mountain. It will be so large that Mount Rushmore will fit on Crazy Horse’s arm. A five-room house will fit inside the nostril of the warrior’s horse. It will be taller than the Washington Monument and nearly twice as big as the Statue of Liberty.
It is truly a monumental project. While we probably wouldn’t go to these lengths even for a family business, it’s still good to reflect on how important our families are to our jobs and our happiness. That’s why it’s vital to work safely every day. We have to remember that we’re not just working for ourselves, but for our families who love and depend on us. In fact, our families are the reason why we work so hard every day.
Today, Ziolkowski’s family continues the work. They now own Thunderhead Mountain and the 328 acres on which it sits. They still live at its base. With drills, dynamite and determination, they are committed to making Ziolkowski’s vision a reality, no matter how difficult it is and no matter how long it takes.
Do it for you
Do it for your family
*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety B-228
The Power of the Word
Some of the most timeless words ever uttered in a speech by an American president were inspired by a poem with an illustrious history of its own.
In Hollywood in the 1940s, movie stars came to Kathryn Kay for the poems she wrote for special occasions. One day, the wife of Hobart Bosworth, a well-known movie star, bought a copy of Kay’s book If the Shoe Fits and immediately fell in love with the patriotic poem Thanksgiving Prayer.
The poem was read on the radio by Mrs. Bosworth’s famous husband on Thanksgiving Day, 1941. The occasion was the 150th anniversary of the State of New Jersey’s ratification of the Bill of Rights.
Later Mrs. Bosworth personally presented a framed copy of the poem to President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt in appreciation of Eleanor Roosevelt’s tireless efforts to promote the cultural arts.
The Bosworth’s also had the poem cast in a bronze plaque, which was to be presented at a Southern California Bill of Rights commemoration on December 7, 1941. But early that morning the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Years later, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Kathryn Kay got a call from Washington lobbyist Charles Siems. He said President Kennedy had heard the 1941 radio broadcast of the poem upon his graduation from Harvard and was greatly moved by it, especially the final line: “God, help me make America as proud that I am hers—as I am proud and grateful she is mine.” Some 20 years later, that sentiment surfaced in Kennedy’s mind. He expressed it in some of the most memorable words ever uttered in one of the most famous speeches in American history: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Just as President’s Kennedy’s words held the power to inspire a nation, there’s one word that should inspire you because your happiness and your livelihood depend on it. That word is “safety.”
A Word to the Wise: Safety
* Copyright 2002 Harkins Safety (B158)