Safety is no accident

December 1, 2005 By    

A few months ago, I put on a program on personal safety in the workplace. After making my pitch for the goal of zero accidents, I was met with limited resistance.

 Jay Johnston
Jay Johnston

One manager said, “It’s just not realistic.” But after an open discussion about the costs and the stakeholders, the owner sheepishly got up and said, “I may have been too lenient by setting a goal of two accidents a year-the new goal is zero accidents.”

We must inspect what we expect. When we expect accidents we give up safety ground.

I believe all accidents are preventable and related somehow to lack of focus, lack of training or lack of money. This means customers as well as marketers.

Tough as it may be to imagine, some cash-strapped do-it-yourselfer will bank their own stupidity against your ability to prove to be defendable after they mess with the system.

That’s why we have to creatively warn them against their own lack of focus, lack of training and lack of money.

After a few beers, Uncle Fred is invincible and decides to tackle that water heater problem during halftime. That’s a bad idea.

How about those renters? God bless those who pay their bills and don’t leave with the appliances. How about those landlords? God bless those who tell you in advance about changes in occupancy and explain rules about safety in their leases.

Safety is no accident. Safety is contingent upon each of us doing our job with pride, dignity and presence. Safety is the result of disciplined focus on doing the right thing at the plant, in the truck and in the field every day. Each and every part of the safety process contributes to the sum total.

There is only one way to eat an elephant sized objective such as safety-one bite at a time. Every person in your company must eat at the same safety table.

Safety doesn’t have to be so serious that it’s dry as Grandma’s chipped beef. I think a sense of humor with regard to the challenges of safety and compliance is essential. We have to remember the scales of persistence weigh heavy on those in charge of achieving and enforcing such prevention-oriented practices.

I recently ended an hour-long safety program with my acoustic rendition of “Home Grown Tomatoes.” After all, “there are only two things money can’t buy and that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.” Unbeknownst to me, management had passed out lighters and at the end I received a 35 butane lighter ovation. That made safety fun and memorable.

Propane systems properly installed and uninterrupted are energy efficient and safer than any other fuel supply. No joke.

I recommend that you look towards the safety process as an ongoing opportunity to discuss three prevention oriented questions:

What’s happening?

What’s NOT happening?

What do we want to happen?

We need to strive to be accident-free, so that at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month and at the end of the year our customers are safe and happy. A worthy goal like that protect customers, employees and the bottom line.

So remember, regret and doubt are wasted emotions. With hard work and humor, we can do everything we plan to do and remain accident-free-one day at a time.

Safety is no accident.

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