Thought Leadership

Lose two fingers and be a safety champion?

The importance of educating workers about safety culture

April 10, 2013
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Have you ever had a discussion with someone who honestly believed they held safety as a value, yet they were so off the mark you were left speechless?

Years ago, I had a very awkward moment at dinner. I was dining with the owner of a lumber company one evening at a friend's house (the friend's employer). The owner commented he heard I was in the safety business. I confirmed I was. He proudly told me how committed to safety he was. He said safety was very important and, in fact, his company was having a safety celebration in a week. They were having a luncheon to celebrate another year without a lost-time injury. At first, this sounded great, but suddenly things changed.
In addition to the celebration, each employee would receive a check for $500 because there had been no injuries. As you know, this can cause injuries to go unreported.

Skeptically, I listened as he went on to say he was going to recognize Bob as being the one responsible for everyone receiving a check this year. I asked him if Bob was their safety champion or team leader. He said Bob had an incident where he cut off a couple of fingers but because he returned to work the next day it didn't count as a lost-time injury. I was at a loss for words.
I am sure this guy believes he has a great safety culture, yet I am as certain every employee there knows he doesn’t care about their personal safety. To make things worse, employees create peer pressure not to work safely but to hide injuries.
One thing I can tell you is I have never seen or heard this from employees of any of my clients.


Simple, only companies, safety leaders and corporate executives who are committed to safety bring in experts such as me to help them become even better. They understand the value of input from outside their organization.

Have a safe week!
Yours in service,
John Drebinger

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