It’s our pleasure to introduce this new quarterly column on safety-related attitudes and thinking by baseball’s consecutive days worked record-holder, Cal Ripken, Jr.

When the gang at Northern Safety first approached me about discussing workplace safety, I really didn’t get it. I thought it was a stretch… what the heck does baseball and my consecutive games played streak have to do with safety at work?

Then, in an effort to make the analogy they informed me that my consecutive games played streak of 2,632 straight games equates to 6,205 consecutive days without a lost-time accident and that got me thinking. What did I do during the course of my career that may have kept me safe and on the field?

As I think back to my playing career, I recall some members of the media saying that I played it safe to preserve the streak, and nothing could be further from the truth. I played hard each and every day and I never avoided contact or opted not to run on what would be a close play, but I think that they may have made that assumption because I managed to stay healthy and on the field for all of those games.

I certainly had some gifts from my dad that kept me going in terms of desire, drive and a competitive spirit (not to mention an uncanny ability to heal quickly), but I believe awareness was what helped me the most.

I always considered myself a student of the game and when I entered a ballpark, before actually playing in it, I liked to walk through the ballpark and look at the field itself, the angles, the walls, how the sun reflects, things like that, and the observations I made during that walk-through stayed with me and helped me during the series. 

It made me realize that awareness is the key … awareness promotes prevention!

After I retired following the 2001 season, I found myself in demand as a speaker. The companies that wanted me to speak to them wanted to hear about the streak and how I did it, what characteristics does it take to play all those games in a row.

Transferrable characteristics

Well, I sat down and I came up with a list of eight attributes, and I liked that because my number was eight. Joking aside, when you examine them, I believe they can all apply to any line of work and how we approach our jobs to be the best we can be.

The Right Approach… You have to be prepared each and every day and have the right outlook on your job and what needs to be done.

Strong Will To Succeed… Sometimes success comes easier than other times. If you maintain that drive and fight through the tough times, it fortifies you for the future and helps you believe in your own ability.

Passion… You have to be passionate about what you do for a living. My dad used to say that there are too many people out there doing things that they hate… find what you love and go for it.

Love To Compete… When you hear the word competition, most of us immediately think about someone outside of our team or organization. While that is certainly true, I would also encourage some friendly competition inside of your own four walls. It keeps everyone on top of their game.

Consistency… This is about routine and this is certainly one of those areas that keep you safe. If you are consistent in your steps to prepare each and every day, you avoid complacency and injury.

Conviction… Some people refer to this as being stubborn, and I think that is fair. In our house growing up there were two kinds of stubborn, good stubborn, and bad stubborn. If it is about sticking with it and standing up for what you believe, that is good stubborn every time.

Strength… We need to work on our strength, both physical and mental.

Life Management… Managing our lives away from work is vital. If things are out of control at home, it is nearly impossible to make them work at the office.

So as you can see, there is more of a connection between business and baseball than you might think at first glance, and there is definitely more of a tie between safety in the workplace and baseball than I ever knew.

Remember, the more prepared you are, the more aware of your surroundings you are and the more you form solid habits, the safer and more effective you will be day in and day out.

Throughout out 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.”