14th April 2020 by Joseph Coniglio
Safety means something different to everyone in the industry. Obviously, for a safety professional, it means our livelihood, our way of life, and our profession. If you know a safety professional, you often find that they don’t “turn off” their knowledge and experience even off duty. On vacation, at sports events or even kid school trips, I am always finding safety concerns and telling people things like “hey, don’t step there” or “I wouldn’t trust that.”
On the flip side I see, and personally know, some people who think “safety” is a copout for those that are risk-averse. In their eyes, you're not strong unless you’re pushing the limits of safety. You’re not a tough guy unless you have a broken bone story to tell from an accident. I can say that some, but definitely not all, business owners see safety as the government overstepping their reach or simply looking to fill the coffers. Is that reality? I don't think so-- and that’s not just because I’m a safety professional. If you have ever been at work, home, school or other places where a tragic accident happened and you witnessed it first-hand, I bet your outlook on safety changed. See as hard-working, construction or manufacturing professionals there is a feeling that we must accept working unsafely sometimes for no other reason than an internal burn to be as hard as steel. I’m here to tell you that working safely, efficiently, and going home at the end of the day makes you hard as steel and, more importantly, a leader. In fact, I bet even the Man of Steel would tie off if he could not fly!
I tip my hat to the construction and manufacturing trades, they have (in my opinion) some of the toughest jobs in the civilian environment. I say civilian as I think the US Military is the hardest working group of professionals in the world and yes, I’m partial. Construction folks wake up at hours most of us only see when we need to catch a flight. They don't call in to see if the weather is going to delay work. Snowstorms, rain, heat, there is not much that Mother Nature can throw at them that causes their work to stop. In manufacturing, they see long hours, repetitive movement that causes injuries, strict deadlines, and exposure to some of the worst chemicals known to man. I am telling you all of this because if that is you, I want to let you know that your job is already dangerous enough. I implore you for your children, parents, friends and of course yourself to work safely. Safety measures are put in place to help mitigate you and your colleagues from being injured; they don’t make you appear weak. Safety is silent. Safety is effective.
The main value and most important outcome from safety is knowing the clock won’t stop for you today. If as a business owner you don’t see the value in adding a strong safety program or if you’re a construction professional who does not see the value in putting on a harness or a manufacturing professional who does not see the value in wearing eye protection when mixing chemicals then I would venture a guess that you have not personally witnessed the outcome of an accident, first hand. When your heart is racing as you frantically try to apply pressure on a major arty bleed or find ice to put your colleagues severed limb in is a time that safety was not on someone’s agenda that day. Unfortunately, it does not just affect those that don't follow the rules, it affects everyone in their life. Figure out what safety means to you, and if you find that it has little meaning then take some time to change that outlook so you can go home every day without fail.