David Sarkus (left) with Stan “The Man” Musial

Stan "The Man" Musial is considered one of baseball's greatest players ever. He's from my hometown of Donora, Pa. We both attended Donora High School and Stan was a good boyhood friend of my father. Stan's the pride of Donora, Pennsylvania! 

Stan was elected to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1969 and is recognized as one of baseball's finest gentlemen.  He's also one of the most consistent players ever to step on a baseball field. 

I had the honor and pleasure of having lunch with Mr. Stan Musial after delivering an opening keynote speech for a regional Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association (VPPPA) meeting in St. Louis. Throughout lunch, he again showed his consistency, graciously handling interruptions for autographs and posing for photos from nearby admirers.  A wonderful privilege to spend time with baseball's "perfect knight" as he's been aptly named. 

Let's take a look at a few of his career batting statistics, straight from Wikipedia. He had a .331 career batting average which ranks 30th; he hit .336 at home and .326 on the road. He batted .340 in day games and .320 at night. Stan Musial had exactly 1,815 career hits at home, and 1,815 hits on the road. When he retired, Musial had the most career home runs for a player who never won a single-season home run title. According to Wikipedia, "In his September 1941 debut, Musial had two hits; after he got two hits in his final game, 22 years later, a sportswriter jokingly wrote, 'He hasn't improved at all'."

Consistency sets expectations

Great numbers and great consistency — but what's it have to do with safety? 

A lot — especially when it comes to your middle managers and supervisors who have to affect continual change in both attitudes and actions. They must set consistent expectations and establish positive norms for your safety culture.

Think about the ways in which your managers and supervisors need to establish and maintain consistency:

1 — Do they schedule time for regular observations and coaching sessions?   2 — Are they regularly involved in physical inspections?

3 — Do they set ongoing expectations for exceptional housekeeping?

4 — Do they hold regular safety meetings which are well prepared and well delivered?

5 — Is safety established as the highest priority value on any given agenda? Or is safety an afterthought — just about any day of the week?

6 — Are these same leaders held accountable for the kinds of consistencies that will make a difference?

7 — Do you support these leaders and recognize their accomplishments?

A requirement — not an option

I continue to think about the kinds of consistencies required of supervisors, managers, teams, and organizations in order to establish and maintain world-class safety performance. I also continue to think about the consistencies that Stan Musial was known for — on and off the field.

For the long haul — it takes support

In an age marred by fads, fickleness and fantasies, Stan Musial remains married to his high school sweetheart since the age of 19. How's that for loyalty — another dimension of consistency?

Twenty-two years of outstanding performance in major league baseball is a lot to comprehend. In a similar way, it takes focus, persistence, teamwork and support to evolve your safety culture. Your managers and supervisors need your support and recognition to get there. They need your help to ignite a part of the safety vision and keep it alive. 

After lunch in St. Louis, I was helping Mr. Musial down a short set of steps when he stated:  "I don't get around too good anymore."

I said, "Oh no, you get around pretty well!"

"Ah no,"  he responded in jest.  "I think I hit too many triples!"

I had to laugh, 177 triples and an incredible amount of consistency over two decades requires a good bit of running and a bunch of ongoing support. More consistency and more support than most any "one man" can muster all alone.