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Our companies spend a lot of time and money keeping our employees safe in their plant and vehicles. But what about us customer reps?

Well, I think it's about time we band together to promote our own safety program.

This newest brainstorm hit about 3:30 a.m. a few weeks ago. I was on my way to an early post-tension pour in downtown Nashville. I had stopped at a local convenience store to satisfy my coffee habit. Walking out with my purchase, I was approached by a couple of rough-looking characters. They introduced themselves as a couple of gentlemen who were down on their luck and needed some help getting home.

Now, I am not one to support panhandling, but I really didn't have much of a choice. Here they are standing on either side of me coming out of the store, knowing that I used some form of currency to buy my coffee. I had a couple of dollar bills left over and handed them over. They thanked me and wandered off down the street $2 richer. And even better, they headed in the opposite direction of the pour.

As I pulled over to the jobsite, I wondered what would have happened if they had tried to rob me. I'm not small by any means. But I certainly am not 10 feet tall and bulletproof. Most of the time when something like that happens, they catch you off guard and just mug you and take your wallet.

As salespeople, we travel a lot of miles during the course of a workweek. Late evening meetings, early morning pours, Saturday mornings at the office getting those last few items of paperwork done for the owners who have asked you for your quarterly projections earlier than usual. These are just some of the reasons why we keep unusual hours. I don't have to tell you that on the news we see and hear of incidents where people are carjacked or kidnapped at public places as big as Wal-Mart or at major shopping centers.

Be aware

Sometimes we are a little lax in our own safety. Maybe we're fortunate that we are so accustomed to things just going the right way. But they don't.

Several years ago, I was robbed at a drive-up bank teller machine. It wasn't fun. So today, I have a much greater awareness of my surroundings.

Perhaps that's why I believe safety means more than just wearing a brightly colored hardhat, goggles, and steel-toed work boots. We should take extra precautions to keep our employees safe from undesirable elements in our society.

One thing that's definitely changed has been the hours our folks work. Late-night and early morning pours are becoming the normal way to increase productivity. But they can also be a point where our guards are down. Whenever we work unusual hours, I tell the plant personnel to come and go in groups of at least two. Most of the time when there are at least two people together, most thieves will leave you alone.

Don't take your or your employees' safety for granted. Always keep an open eye and an open mind when going about your activities.

In an effort to help me maintain my loyal readership, how about sharing your off-site safety tips with us? We'll send you a World of Concrete hat or T-shirt if your suggestion passes muster with the other editors.

jimambrose@aol.com