Category: Accountability Speaker

Is Safety for the Other Guy?

 

As a safety motivational speaker, I have never thought it was my mission during a safety keynote speech or breakout session to scare anyone. Because I know, I know what many of you are thinking “Safety is for the other guy. I don’t need lectures, Scott. I know what I’m doing.”

Look in the Mirror

There was a time, as a D-1 football player and martial artist, when I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I was invincible. In addition to sports, I also worked with hazardous materials and heavy equipment at a golf course job, and was trained how to handle my duties safely. There was nothing you could have preached to me about staying safe. In my mind, safety speeches were for the other guy.

One evening my buddies and I headed to the beach to celebrate my latest kickboxing victory. It was a short drive later in the evening to scavenge for firewood, and I figured I could forgo my seatbelt as we scoured the area for supplies. It was a split-second decision not to snap my seatbelt into the buckle, and in retrospect, a lazy one. My friend lost control of his car, hit a mound of sand and sent the car hurtling end-over-end on the beach. When I woke up, I was a quadriplegic. This time, the mirror didn’t lie. I was not invincible. I couldn’t even move a finger.

In 2020, when we were all in lockdown – and seemingly super safety-conscious, national safety and Worker’s Compensation experts found that there were as many accidents as there were in 2019. In fact, statistics for 2019 and 2020 were higher than 2018. Accidents included slips and falls, back injuries, manufacturing incidents, trucking and construction accidents.

By “accidents” I am not referring to scrapes and bruises, but serious injuries; crippling injuries, surgeries and hospitalizations, and tragically, death.

In every case, the workers took on the attitude that safety was for the other guy. Safety didn’t apply to them, just like the seatbelt didn’t apply to me.

An Inescapable Philosophy

My accident changed my life. As I began my rehab, I realized that I was the other guy. It wasn’t about “me and them,” but us. In that hospital setting, supported and surrounded by incredible healthcare providers, I worked hard to get function, to feel better and to pardon myself. I vowed to help others and as a result, I arrived at my philosophy of vision, mindset and grit.

I understood that many of us live in a time where procrastination is easy. In fact, procrastination has gotten worse and not better. After all, why pay attention to a safety video when there are emails that demand response? Why worry about a training podcast when there are texts to send, videogames to play, social media posts to answer?

Vision, Mindset and Grit, requires each of us on the job, whatever we do on the job to realize that nothing is more important than safety. The “Other Guy” is you; the guy in the mirror.

We must all develop the Vision of making our workplace and each other safe; we must have the Mindset of making safety our most important mission and to have the daily Grit to keep safety top-most in our minds.

If we are not committed to safety, we will pay the price. Like an unpaid credit card bill, it will come back to haunt us. Safety may not be “fun,” but it will cost us if we ignore it.

 

For more information on booking Scott Burrows, Safety Keynote Speaker for your next event, contact him through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169

 

What does it mean to be “accountable?” As a safety and accountability motivational speaker, I know that my audiences, virtual or in-person, understand “safety” but I am often asked about the accountability part. We all know about accountability, but how it is measured? It is one of my favorite topics to cover in my talks on safety.

The Accountability Factor

It has been nearly a decade (June 1, 2010), since safety expert David Maxfield wrote an excellent article for EHS Today entitled: “Workplace Safety is the Leading Edge of a Culture of Accountability.” In his article, Maxfield wrote about an automotive company executive whose team had an exceptional safety record. The manager stated:

“I use safety as the leading edge of accountability. We need accountability to achieve the quality, productivity and cost targets we set. But I start with safety. If I can’t achieve accountability around safety, then I can’t achieve accountability around anything.”

Another way of starting the accountability and safety interplay discussion is by using the word “mindset.” It is easy for a manager, department or employee to ask themselves, “Are we accountable?” When we do that, every hand in the room is raised. Of course, if we’re accountable the voices might shout in unison. However, if the incidences of workplace accidents are up, if lost hours or days or even weeks are lost due to injuries, if cost targets are completely missed as the result of workplace injury occurrences, then how accountable have we been?

Did our organization have the mindset to see that the leading edge of accountability is quantifiable? If our organization lacks the vision to understand that each safety violation added one on top of the other will result in dollars and cents impact, then all of our talk on accountability is just that – talk.

Grit Averts Tragedy

Several years ago, Angela Duckworth Ph.D conducted a groundbreaking psychological examination on “grit” as the key to academic and occupational excellence. Her conclusion?

“The strongest predictor of success is grit… passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is essentially about stamina, and how consistently you work in a certain direction over time.”

If the desired goal in the workplace is to be accountable, and if accountability is so closely linked to safety, then we must have the grit, the hourly, grind-it-out mentality to persevere to make that happen.

There are no magic safety wall posters or neat safety slogans that can take the place of daily grit. When grit is combined with a safety mindset and the members of the team all pull together with common vision, then quantifiable improvements can be seen.

A safe workplace, no matter the field of expertise of the organization, will achieve a higher quality in its goods or services; it will achieve greater productivity, whether that productivity is measured in units, efficiency or reduced labor.  Clearly, if we have a safe workplace, we will achieve our production cost objectives.

The willingness to get “as gritty as possible,” to make every hour an hour devoted to safety, will define our accountability as an organization – and it will save lives.

 

Book Scott Burrows, Safety & Accountability Keynote Speaker by contacting him through this website or directly calling his office at: (520) 548-1169

 

 

Change is Everywhere, But Nothing Has Changed About Staying Safe

 

As a virtual safety change management speaker, I know that in these uncertain times, nothing is more important than staying safe on the job. Unfortunately, because of stretched resources, layoffs and communications in the “new normal,” staying safe is harder than ever.

I’m not alone in that opinion.

EHS, the international developer of environmental, health and safety management software said in their April 21, 2020 blog, Why Safety Is More Important Than Ever During Tough Economic Times, stated:

“During a crisis, your business will only survive if you can keep your employees engaged and motivated. One of the key ways to keep teams engaged is to stay unified, and the only way to do that is by showing employees that you care. You need to show them that they are valued and that you’re ready to go to bat for them.”

Engaged and Motivated

How are you keeping your employees engaged and motivated about safety with all of the changes going on around them? How are you showing them that you care?

Are you determined to go the extra mile make a difference? Does your vision for a safe workplace match the difficult forces of change?

Safety is not a casual exercise; it must be daily focus of everyone in the organization.

Due to the corona virus pandemic, the majority of safety departments are having to make do with less. The way safety messaging is being conveyed has also changed. Safety talks are often virtual rather than in-person, or at best, in-person and distanced with masks. It is easy to lose touch.

Melissa Raffoni, writing for the Harvard Business Review (May 1, 2020), talked about the obstacles created by trying to communicate virtually. Among the several points mentioned in the article, she emphasized:

“For some, it’s uncomfortable…for many of us adults, who didn’t grow up with that same [virtual] technology, it [communication] can still be quite uncomfortable. This lack of comfort makes it harder for some to open up, connect, trust, and communicate with each other virtually.”

Safety, as we all know, is an agreement to look out for one another and for ourselves. Raffoni continued:

“Interpersonal dynamics are harder to manage [virtually]… You can easily lose people’s attention. It’s challenging enough to engage people in a face-to-face meeting, but virtual meetings often come with a plethora of new distractions.”

In these changing times, when safety is more important than ever, when we must be engaged and motivated, conditions have caused many of us to be less trusting, less communicative and easily distracted.

This combination could be an extremely hazardous or even deadly combination of factors.

Overcome the Forces of Change

The only way to keep the workplace safe in difficult times is by meeting the challenge head-on. This means that everyone in the organization must develop a safety mindset. The organization must be determined to communicate safety by every virtual means possible and it must strive to find a way to convey the messages in person, whether socially distanced, wearing masks in one-to-one meetings, whatever it takes.

Finally, overcoming the changes that are affecting safety takes grit; we must all be resolute that despite the challenges, our daily goal is to protect our most important asset: the lives of every individual in our organization.

 

Scott Burrows, Safety Speaker, is available for virtual or in-person sales meetings for associations and organizations. Contact Scott today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169