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Rules vs Guidelines


When I am faced with a member of our team that has a problem with compliance, I’m always curious why they choose to circumvent the regulations that are intended to promote their own safety and the safety of others. When we use the word “RULE” we are independent thinking people who are free to choose, and the word “RULE” seems to invite resistance. Guidelines, on the other hand, implies advice, recommendations, or instructions and are not expected to be the hard and fast, must do items. Rules are explicit regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity. Any “Pirates of the Caribbean” fans recall the negotiation with Captain Barbossa when Jack Sparrow cites the Pirate Code. A list of rules that pirates must adhere to, but Captain Barbarossa says that, “They’re more what you’d call guidelines, than actual rules” which implies that there is flexibility to interpret rules as more like situational decisions that are made on the basis of convenience. “I’ll obey if it fits within my area of activity as long as it’s convenient.” If we adopt the attitude that rules are merely guidelines rather than principles of conduct, we are compromising our own safety and the safety of others. It’s a character decision. Am I making decisions based on my own idea of just what’s good for me, or am I making decisions that I clearly understand as rules of conduct that are meant for me to be able to do what I love to do safely? Make good choices!

Jeff Blomgren

Director of Safety

Petticoat Schmitt Civil contractors, Inc.

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