Working on the side of the angels
When you think of safety as a calling it takes on a whole new level of importance. You and I are not serving a company or government organization. That helps you put just a little more effort into training you may have done a hundred times. I often think the work we do as acting as angels intervening in the lives of people preventing injuries and all the negative consequences that go along them.
I’ve taught many safety team members that in order to be their best they should do a quick mental exercise before they give a safety talk. I suggest they think of the positive impact their message will have and make it personal. Imagine as a result of your talk someone avoids an injury and goes home to give their child a hug that evening. Doing your best for that child is great motivation to do your best.
Taking personal responsibility
People know your beliefs by what you say and what you do. It’s often said that actions speak louder than words. I remind people that words are actions. If a leader never speaks about safety it is a hint that it is not a fundamental part of their life.
People know what is important to us by what we talk about. Leaders must talk about safety in their personal life so their employees know they take safety personally.
On the action side, leaders show their values when they attend an employee safety meeting and stay to the very end. A leader who drops by the safety meeting, says a few words, then leaves, sends the wrong message. Imagine a pastor walking into a worship service telling us how important worship is and then abandoning the service to assistants. Leaders who approach safety as a spiritual responsibility are more likely to take the best actions.
Giving your life
When I sit at a safety conference and look over the crowd I’m looking at a room full of people who have given their lives to save the life of someone else.
They don’t do it by jumping in front of a bullet or pushing someone out of the way of an approaching car. They do it by dedicating themselves to showing up to work every day. To working long hours often beyond what is expected. They volunteer to be on a safety committee without the guarantee of extra pay. Usually, their safety duties are in addition to being effective in their regular assignments.
Not a typical activity
One day on my way to a safety presentation it was cancelled due to weather that would require the workers to be on the job repairing the damage done by the approaching storm. I wondered what I could do to contribute to their safety over the next few days.
I realized there is one aspect of safety many of us could incorporate into our safety process. It isn't as typical as some of the concepts and yet it can help protect our fellow workers and our families. When I have written on prayer and safety in the past, many safety professionals emailed me to let me know they actually have a prayer list of the names of the employees for whom they are responsible. They pray on their behalf every day. I think this is a very powerful concept.
Prayer is a form of preparation. Successful people invest time in preparation no matter what they do. Abraham Lincoln is attributed with sharing the value of sharpening one's axe before chopping wood. The lesson: preparation makes the job easier.
Prayer is also a positive approach. As an expert in communication, I can assure you when you have a positive attitude toward the person you are communicating with you will get a better response. Your attitude and expectation comes across in your physiology, tone of voice, and your words. In fact, your unconscious communication can make or break your message. Praying is a way we can get our message through to even the most resistant employee. It also reminds us we must have a loving approach.
Safety as ministry
You may now have a better perspective that watching out for other people’s safety can be a form of ministry. You and your teams are like shepherds, protecting your workers from harm. May you continue to be blessed in your work getting people home safely every day.