Thought Leadership

Do people really care about job safety?

No, says Phil LaDuke

November 20, 2013

ISHN Guest BlogScott Geller professes to ”prefer to be optimistic and humanistic, believing that the silent majority does care about the safety and health of others, and wants to do the right thing."

I am always suspicious when people start to ascribe motivations and values to the "silent majority." In this case, it is the silence itself that is damning; we can speculate all we want about what lies in the hearts and minds of Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, but in the end if one sees an issue and chooses to remain quiet on it, it is, at least in my opinion, a manifestation of a lack of concern. 

By the way, when I say care, I'm not talking about a couple watching the news and when a report of a horrific injury comes on the news one turns to the other and, clucking his or her tongue, says to the other, "Oh dear, that's terrible."

When I say "care" I mean motivated to DO something. This being my acid test, I say that the silence of the majority is a LOUD statement of apathy.

Week after week I work with clients in the field---mining, manufacturing, oil and gas, agriculture---and yes they say they care, but even in cases where someone has died in a puddle of gore, life goes on virtually unchanged. 

We have politicians here and abroad who openly question if we haven't become "too overly protective" of workers. This tells me that at least in the minds of those politicians, people are sympathetic to this message. 

My proof?

The silence. No outraged letters to the editor, not calls for politicians to step down, no… well reaction at all. 

Add to this a bunch of aging baby boomers who send emails bragging about how "when we were kids we didn't wear seat belts, or bike helmets, or..." fill in the blank with some safety requirement that exists now but didn't exist 35 years ago. George Bush openly categorized asbestos lawsuits as frivolous even as my father died from the mesothemia that ate his plueries and crushed his lungs. 

Did your majority rise up in indignation? Or did they say nothing?

Preferring to believe that "deep down all people are good" is a nice thought. The quote is from the Diary of Anne Frank (another "glass is half full optimist and humanist" with a great faith in the silent majority.) For my part I ain’t buying it. 

Another quote I like:

"First they came for the communists and I didn't speak out for I was not a communist, then they came for the Socialists and I didn't speak out for I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak out for I was not a trade unionist, then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.

Click here to read Scott Geller's blog on whether or not the public cares about the safety and health of others.



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