That Magic Five Point Program

Portrait of James CookPublic domain image from National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, England by Nathaniel Dance-Holland

Portrait of James Cook
Public domain image from National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, England by Nathaniel Dance-Holland

Every now and then I repeat this article because it is probably the greatest breakthrough in the field of SH&E and I just hope somehow it will stick in our minds for another year.

In James Michener’s wonderful book Alaska, he talks about Captain James Cook of the British Navy. Cook, it turns out, was one of the top SH&E Pioneers of all time if you measure it by lives saved on the job.

When Captain Cook took over command of a ship with a crew of 400 he carefully explained to everyone that normally about 180 of them would die on the cruise that might last from one to two years. If they had really rough weather then as many as 280 of them could be expected to die. Then he offered a five point program that could possibly save all of their lives. It went this way.

  1. Keep your quarters clean. (Have you ever heard of good housekeeping as a safety measure?)
  2. Keep your clothing dry. Sure there will be high waves and rain but make an honest effort to stay dry.)
  3. Get plenty of sleep and rest. He introduced the 8 hour shift. Eight on and sixteen off. This was an easy sell to the crew.
  4. Take your daily portion of Wort. It was a strange concoction made of sauerkraut and yeast and other ingredients.
  5. Take your daily portion of Rob. Rob was a juice mixture of lime, lemon, orange and other citrus fruits.

The crew followed his program faithfully and the results revolutionized the entire British Navy. This simple program eliminated the dreaded Scurvy, the cause of so many deaths aboard ships.

With healthier crews Captain Cook and his crew were able to explore to more distant regions and British sailors became known as Limeys. You might say that Captain Cook’s simple five point program revolutionized the British Navy and had an impact on the lives of many, many thousands.

This year I challenge each and every reader to make a difference in the lives of just one fellow worker. Start out with one and watch it grow. I’d be happy to scratch your back. Just tell me where it itches.

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