In American football, the Red Zone is that highly contested battleground between the end zone and the 20 yard-line, where opponents struggle to cross or defend the goal line.

Medically, the Red Zone means symptoms indicate immediate physician attention. And in safety, we need to identify our Red Zones as a priority and give immediate attention.

Of course, there are other examples of the Red Zone, but you get it. The Red Zone is the most critical situation. You must minimize the probability of cause for sickness, injury or death. In football, however, it is a must to get to the Red Zone, a priority to get into this scoring position, and of course, score! Or, for the opponent, defend it against a score. In the case of safety, it is certainly the area to avoid, but to proactively and immediately identify and correct.

In business, and for sure, industrial safety business, there are many Red Zones. It’s all about how you perform in the Red Zone, in the clutch, preferably ahead. It now becomes necessary to become Red Zone efficient. There are, as in football, offensive as well as defensive opportunities to anticipate and react.

The expression, first coined by Andy Warhol goes, “Everybody gets 15 minutes of fame.” A sickness, injury or death is not the place for your or your company’s “15 minutes.”

In business, if you are in the Red Zone, it may be too late. Like a business that finally puts up the sign, “Yes, We’re Open,” it’s too late. Or it signals certainly at least going into the “prevent defense.”

Think of safety working conditions or selling situations as being either on the offensive OR in a “prevent defense” situation in the Red Zone. It’s not about what happens to you or how you got into this Red Zone. It’s all about what you do with what happened and HOW you react and perform in the Red Zone, defensively or offensively, and for our market, safely.

Out of the zone
Wait! Hold the phone!

Football is just the opposite of the industrial safety business. What we really want to do is, STAY OUT OF “THE RED ZONE”! Our job is to, cumulatively, assist keeping our customer, the end user, out of the Red Zone. We do this through in-person plant surveys, interviews, good questions, presentations of new products, programs, ideas, learning about our customer, learning and knowing our customer’s needs and delivering solutions.

How else?
Well, as stated, unlike football, in workplace safety and the business of selling safety products we don’t want to venture into the Red Zone. It’s not a matter of doing one thing, it’s not a thousand things, it’s everything you do — thought, preparation, education, and execution. Like in football practice, it’s doing these things over and over and over again. Thinking scenarios, thinking them out. Preparing by studying and staying current and beyond. Networking with others. Educating and training those around you. Continuous education, such as the QSSP (Qualified Safety Sales Professional) course, which you can learn more about at

Planning is key
Preparation: it could be getting your CIH, CSP, etc. Reading our excellent trade journals. Attending trade expos. Being INVOLVED in your chosen profession. Being involved in industry trade associations such as ISEA (International Safety Equipment Association —, SEDA (Safety Equipment Distributors Association —, ISA (Industrial Supply Association —, MANA (Manufacturers’ Agents National Association — Being and/or becoming contagious in your enthusiasm and knowledge. Then, the most important — execute procedures that go beyond mere compliance in the journey to be the best, the safest of workplaces, and out of the Red Zone.

Yep, it’s much like football (or any sport). But of course safety is NOT a game. Recall the Nationwide commercial, “Life comes at you fast.” Stay out of the Red Zone!

Think about it.