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Safety on the Dock of the Bay

Last weekend I was visiting family in Ponte Vedra Florida and we had the opportunity to visit a unique restaurant on a property that adjoins the intracoastal waterway. I had never been there before. It has a great family friendly atmosphere, very good food and excellent service. As part of their property, they have a small dining terrace outside the main restaurant that faces the waterway. Beyond and adjacent to the dining area, they have a small, nicely manicured lawn and a putting green. It’s a great place to relax in good weather and equally serves as a place for kids to run around and expel some energy.

As I was looking out the window onto the back area, I noticed many kids running around unattended as their parents had dinner or were socializing over drinks. This wouldn’t be an issue except my trained eye noticed that there is no fence, rail or other protection to keep people from going over the edge of the property and into the waterway. As I observed longer, I started to notice how close some of these children were getting to the edge and how no one was really paying attention.

I decided to get up from the table and walk out back to the edge of the property to confirm that there was nothing out of plain sight that would break someone’s fall. There was not. To me, this is a tragic accident waiting to happen and a lawsuit that would cripple this business and its owners.

In my later years of operations management, I have been trained and trained others to speak up and do the “uncomfortable” thing when one sees an accident waiting to happen. So, my response was to not ignore this and speak to the manager. While assuring him that the food, service and ambience was excellent, I pointed out how easily anyone, especially a young child or senior citizen, could fall off the edge of the property down a 5-foot drop into the murky, alligator inhabited waterway. I urged him to raise this issue with owners and he told me they were aware of the issue and that there were “permit issues” to putting up a fence.

I left unsatisfied. Th

ere is no level of bureaucracy or excuses that will justify a severe injury or death when there are a myriad of simple solutions. Equally, I’m certain that blaming the permit department of the local government won’t keep the lawyers away or provide indemnification for the business.

Compelled to do more, I found out the owner’s name and tried to obtain an email address. Eventually I was successful in finding a webpage for restaurant portfolio and used the comment area to send an email of concern which included ideas like signage, having staff supervision in the yard (trained to rescue if needed) or simply put up the damn fence and a

sk for forgiveness rather than permission.

I hope they act!

My message to everyone is simple. Whether you’re in the manufacturing plant, the office, a restaurant or your home…speak up! Don’t ignore what you know is wrong or what you believe can be better. You’ll never know whose life you will be impacting.

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