We Will Never “Be Over” Safety

 

Recently, as I was delivering a talk as a workplace safety speaker, I was asked if we would ever be at the stage where workplace accidents would cease to become a problem?

“Unfortunately, workplace accidents are based on poor decision making. Unless there is a focused shift in mindset, they won’t go away.”

While we would like to think that safety messaging is working, unfortunately the rates are not plummeting, and far too many tragedies are still occurring.

The most common types of workplace fatalities remain (in order): “Falls,” 33.5% of construction worker deaths, “Struck by an object” – 11.1% of construction worker deaths, “Electrocutions” – 8.5% of construction worker deaths and “Caught in/between” – 5.5% of construction worker deaths.

Fatal accidents most frequently occurred in mining, construction and, not surprisingly, trucking and warehousing. Injuries (and, as I always stress, these are not benign bumps and bruises) include slips and falls, ladder accidents and lifting (and/or carrying) objects that are too heavy.

It takes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a quite a while to catch up with the statistics but the most current data is still discouraging. The November 3, 2021 summary showed that:

“There were 1,176,340 nonfatal injuries and illnesses that caused a private industry worker to miss at least one day of work in 2020, 32.4 percent higher than in 2019.”

We can blame COVID-19 for many things, but the virus is not responsible for causing a worker to fall because they weren’t wearing a safety harness, or trying to lift a weight far too heavy, or running into another forklift that was also rushing.

Though in 2018 the BLS was pleased with the decline in injuries over 2017, the numbers have either risen or stayed the same year-to-year since that time. Families are still getting far too many calls in regard to those they love suffering grievous injuries or worse, while their loved ones are on the job.

Safety is Us

Who fails when “safety fails?” We do. All of us. No matter what we do in our workplace, from manufacturing to mining to cleaning surgical suites or delivering appliances, we cannot be in this for ourselves. While taking a vaccine for Shingles or Pneumonia or the flu, for that matter, is personal, on the job we are a part of a team. If a co-worker gets injured, all of us share in the responsibility. There is no other way to look at it.

If we (obviously) look forward to making it home at the end of a shift, we must also have the vision of seeing our co-workers safely return to their families. This is not a one-time deal, but every day, throughout the day. Why is this so important? If we have their backs, they will hopefully have ours.

The safety posters, videos, lectures and even equipment are important, but the real safety mindset is with us. We cannot neglect one another just as we would never neglect ourselves.

Will we ever “get completely over” safety? No. But we can make sure we do our part to do something to help the other guy.

 

To book Scott Burrows, Workplace Safety Keynote Speaker, contact him through this website or contact his office at: (520) 548-1169