People ask me all the time how I was able to perform my job for 17 years without missing a game… or as you would say, without a lost-time accident.
After I set the record for most consecutive games played, 2,632 straight games in the span of 6,205 days, I often got asked how I did it. What was the secret?
Stretching before each game, maintaining the right diet and learning to listen to my body were vital steps I took to prevent strains and the kinds of non-contact injuries that I saw sideline my teammates in an instant. Always staying in shape was an obvious key as well.
When your job has you on the road for nearly half the year, it’s also important to stay mentally prepared too. No matter how much I thought I had the game figured out, I always made sure to continue learning from the game and getting the right amount of rest.
Beyond training and mental prep
But the truth is, all the physical training and mental preparation are vital but can only take you so far. You need the right equipment.
When Northern Safety approached me to help them offer safety tips for their customers, I thought about what I learned about safety over my career… and I thought about those baseballs. I was hit by pitches 66 times during my career and relied on my instincts, and of course my batting helmet, to keep me in the game.
The team at Northern Safety showed me all the protective equipment they offer workers across the country and it was clear how important protection is in your field just like mine. In some cases, the gear they showed me looked a lot like the gear you’d find in the locker room at Oriole Park.
Fastballs & flying debris
In both worlds — Major League Baseball stadiums and in workplaces across the country — not everything is in your control. It’s critical to be prepared for the worst — whether it’s fastballs or flying debris.
Choosing the right equipment and using that equipment properly can mean the difference between sitting out and staying in the game.
While I won’t claim to be an expert in heavy machinery, I can offer a few tips on choosing the right safety equipment and using it to prevent injury:
• During a game, no one goes up to the plate without a batting helmet. In the workplace, the same goes for a hard hat. In time, this headgear can wear down. Always inspect your hard hats before you put them on. Make sure the shell does not have cracks or dents and replace your suspension annually.
• There are many kinds of gloves in baseball and an even greater variety for jobs off the field. There are varying levels of grip, durability and flexibility – in addition to thickness and material. When you’re out on the job, you want to make sure you have the right kind of gloves and you want to make sure those gloves fit correctly. It can make the difference between a home run and a hand injury.
• Playing 162 games each season can lead to injuries that occur simply because players are repeating the same tasks – like hitting, pitching and running. In the workplace, having ergonomically-designed work stations and using equipment that fits can help prevent repetitive stress injuries.
For more safety tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years, visit www.northernsafety.com and check out the videos Northern Safety and I have posted to help you out. And stay safe!
Throughout his record-breaking career, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., nicknamed “The Iron Man,” never missed a day of work. He retired in 2001 after playing 2,632 consecutive games — the equivalent of 17 years, or 6,205 days without a lost-time accident. He knows what it takes to stay safe at work, and he’s joined nationwide safety products supplier Northern Safety to share the importance of safety in the workplace.
“The core values Cal possesses directly mirror the core values we live by at Northern Safety,” says Sal Longo, founder and CEO of Northern Safety. “His dedication and commitment to keeping himself safe and ready to play embodies our message of safety in the workplace. That’s the message he’s helping us get out to our customers, and we’re thrilled to have him on our team.”