From a Blue Hat

By Terry Shannon, Alliant Energy

Troubled flight gives a safety lesson

I recently had the opportunity to attend the National Safety Council Labor division meetings and IBEW Caucus in Charlotte, NC. On the way home, I had something happen that I would like to share as it really puts safety into perspective.

We had a flight from Charlotte to Atlanta and then on to Cedar Rapids. During the second part of the flight, the pilot came on the intercom and said there was a possible problem with some cooling fans and that we would be making an unplanned landing in Nashville to have the issue looked at, since they had a repair shop at that airport.

They were concerned that if the cooling fans weren’t working correctly, it could affect the computers. As soon as he made this announcement, there was grumbling among almost every passenger on the flight. 

“We would be late getting home,” “Could they fix it immediately?” or “Would we be sitting in an airport for hours, or even worse, sitting on a hot plane while they attempted to make repairs?” These were just some of the thoughts that went through our minds as we prepared to land in Nashville.


Once we were safely on the ground, they did let us off the plane while they made the necessary repairs. Several times they came on the intercom to give us updates, but by now we were all a little upset because we were obviously going to be late. After about two hours, the repairs had been made and we boarded the plane and were off for Cedar Rapids.

As I was sitting in the terminal waiting for the repairs, I had time to really think about what was happening, and everyone’s negative response, including my own. As I thought about the inconvenience this created for us, I also thought about the inconvenience of crashing in a rather large airplane. Would I rather fly on an airline that says there MIGHT be a problem, so we are going to land and check it out, or an airline that says there might be a problem, but we are going to take a chance and see if we can make it back to Cedar Rapids so that no one gets home late? When I looked at it that way, it made sense and I realized how stupid I was for feeling inconvenienced for the extra effort to make sure we made it home safely.


I then put this in perspective in my daily life, mostly my work situation. Would I rather work for a company that sets rules and procedures that are designed to keep me safe at work and allow me the time to do my job safely, or work for a company that really doesn’t care about me as an individual, a company that TALKS safety but doesn’t walk the talk.

I think we are all very fortunate to work for a company that allows us the time and resources to do our job safely. I’d much rather go to work every day knowing that I have every opportunity to do my job safely and return home in the same condition that I went to work in, or better. 

It’s easy to get the attitude that our rules and procedures slow us down and sometimes even make it more difficult to do our job. I just keep reminding myself of the day in the airplane, and I’m glad someone was watching out for our safety. 

Now it’s my obligation to do the same at work, for both myself and my co-workers. Work safely every day – someone