I work in the petro-chemical industry. We are the ones that bring you the natural gas, gasoline, plastics and many other products that make modern civilization possible. When you are working with highly explosive chemicals, safety is your first and most important priority. One small mistake, oversight, cutting of corners, by-passing of procedures—and you can have a major catastrophe on your hands. The cost to life, health and the environment can be tremendous. So we spend a lot of time, effort and training to make sure our designs and practices are safe.
I work in an engineering office where the potential hazards are minimal, but we place the same level of effort on safety. In the office the big safety issues are things like, put a lid on your coffee cup so you won’t spill any and create a slip hazard, or cross the street only when the light says “walk”. Everyone’s favorite is “Please remember to hold the handrail when doing down stairs”. They hammered on the handrail issue so much that it became the office joke. Every meeting started with a safety moment about the staircase. We had balloons tide to the handrail saying “hold the handrail”. We had signs to remind us. Someone even had cardboard cutouts of the chief officers of the building with these words coming out of their mouths, “Remember to hold the handrails”. We were encouraged to stop coworkers and remind them to hold the hand rails.
If you are like me, you are saying to yourself, “This is totally absurd. These are highly educated men and women, they are adults. You are treating them like kindergarteners. They have been walking since they were a one-year-old. They don’t need to be told how to cross the street, or walk without spilling things, or how to walk on the staircase.” Well that is how I feel. And I am not about to stop someone on the staircase and say, “Ah-ah-ah, you are not holding the hand rail”. It just seems so stupid to have to tell people something that they should already know, and they have already been warned about a thousand times.
Believe it or not we had two people fall within one month’s time. One of them missed the bottom step and fell face first, spread-eagle on the office lobby floor.
This article is not just about holding the handrail. There are all kinds of areas where we know we should take precautions but we don’t because we feel stable. We have never fallen before, we go on with a false confidence that it will never happen to us. It is not all that unusual for a person on staff at a Church to become romantically involved with someone they are not married to. When the news comes out there are typically two reactions. First is, “How could this happen, they know better than that. Precautions in this area are one of the first things that they teach you when you are going into ministry.” The second response is, “I saw it! I saw all of the warning signs and I didn’t say anything. Why didn’t I warn them?”
When walking down a staircase there are simple precautions that you need to take to keep yourself from falling and hurting yourself. Often they seem unnecessary. They are things like, don’t be distracted, don’t carry things down on the stairs, they could compromise your stability (take the elevator instead), be self-aware you could be caught off balance, and hold the handrail.
When it comes to sexual integrity there are the same types of precautions. Pay attention to what you are doing, don’t be distracted. Be self-aware, pay attention to how you are feeling and respond appropriately. Don’t place yourself in compromising positions like being alone with someone of the opposite sex. Don’t believe that you can keep yourself from falling, remember to hold the handrail.
If you see someone that is not following the safety precautions, then you have an obligation to remind them of the simple safety rules. We don’t want anyone to fall and hurt themselves.