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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