Neglecting safety issues can give you the blues

January 30, 2020 By    

Companies are in business to make a profit. Some of those profits fund workplace and customer safety initiatives.

But despite “being in the black,” some may view safety as an impediment to sales as opposed to integrating safety into their business plans and growth strategies.

Do the verses below ring a bell?

(To the melody of Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man”)

I go to work everyday
To do what’s right

So that my team and customers
Stay safe day and night

One day my boss calls me up
And I heard him say

Talking safety to customers
Just don’t pay

It’s enough to give you a case of the blues. But that attitude is so wrong.

For years, I have listened to many communications and marketing consultants who are vehemently opposed to talking to customers about safety. “They won’t understand it” and “It will scare them” are just two of the many claims I’ve heard.

But focus groups conducted by Logica 3 to gain insight on customer views of the Propane Education & Research Council’s updated consumer safety and duty-to-warn materials have proven those folks incorrect:

  • 94 percent agree the booklet is easy to understand.
  • 80 percent agree there is a good balance of both safety and warning information.
  • 80 percent would read, share and save.
  • 81 percent agree this shows a commitment to safety.

An 81 percent agreement on a commitment to safety is “marketing gold” and suggests companies need not shy away from communicating safety messages to their customers.

Lessons from the Boeing 737 Max

In October 2018 and again in March 2019, 346 passengers were killed in two separate Boeing 737 Max airplane crashes.

In both instances, pilot error was initially reported as the cause. We know now that defects in the plane’s design and computer software were the more likely causes.

What is troubling is that no one on Boeing’s board of directors thought to inquire about any safety issues associated with the new aircraft.

Last year, the Washington Post reported that Boeing’s board of directors thought the safety of the new aircraft “was just a given.”

Even though some Boeing pilots and safety engineers discussed their concerns prior to the catastrophic crashes, the planes still flew.

In an effort to manage the crisis and redeem itself, Boeing has been publishing full-page ads across the country saying that they “are truly sorry” and that they are “strengthening the culture of safety within Boeing.” I’m a believer in second chances, but this all seems hollow to me.

Perhaps if Boeing put safety before profits, lives would have been saved. Furthermore, it will now spend millions of dollars in lawsuits and marketing campaigns to salvage its reputation. Damage control is not the best marketing strategy.

If they paid more attention to safety, they would not be singing this tune:

(To the melody of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried”)

First thing I remember knowin’
Is we got to keep those
planes a flowin’
And with no safety concerns
on my mind

Then two planes went on down
And I needed to get outta town
I got no one to blame
Cause safety guys tried

To all propane professionals, let’s start and end 2020 safe and profitable, and leave your blues behind.

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