Today, I had a flashback to a powerful scene near the end of the movie Schuler’s List. World War II had ended and now the scene shows Schuler about to depart the plant where he had saved hundreds of lives by buying back the lives of his workers. Now penniless, as he is about to climb into his fancy car he looks at it and realizes that if he had sold his car he might have saved even a few more lives. He appreciates the love and thanks of those he has saved but he is stricken by his failure to do more.
Perhaps it is because it is the start of New Year but as I look back on my career I am struck with the thought that I had spent over sixty years looking for that magic pill that would wipe out all of those horrible injuries and fatalities that occur in our plants, tragic incidents that might have been prevented. I know this might sound like a trite commercial but it is just a feeling I have deep in my heart. I truly believe that when workers become Brother’s and Sister’s keepers, taking responsibility for their own safety and that of their fellow worker; and when they sign such a commitment for positive interaction; and when they give one another permission to interact with each other when there is some danger; and further when they have a easy and effective way to interact such as our simple 101 hand signal; then….then I do believe that something wonderful happens. People begin to care more about one another and they begin to get involved in their own safety and that of their fellow worker and from that moment on the numbers change. Fewer workers are killed and injured on the job. I’ve seen this happen time and again throughout my career. I have introduced such a program to the so many industries and they have reported back to me that my program works. This has occurred in the petroleum industry, the power industry, the gas industry, in the automotive industry and the United States Air Force and so many times that today as I thought about this I felt very much like Schuler had felt when he looked at his fancy car and realized he might have saved a few more lives. I am still trying.
In my lifetime I have waded through a lot of crap. In the rice fields in Korea as a combat rifleman, as a railroad claim agent handling employee injury claims and those horrible railroad crossing fatalities for twenty five years. And in dealing with more than a thousand corporations and associations and meeting with many, many thousands of safety people trying to share with them this rare, simple way to implement breakthroughs in preventing injuries I have often been sick and discouraged learning that so many top bosses and even a few top union people too apparently couldn’t care less about the safety of their workers. Self interest and the mighty dollar in the form of the bottom line rules and this is becoming more and more so with the current challenges for actual corporate survival.
I failed miserably for so many years with so many people to make the truth believable. Safety pays. Safety improves the bottom line. You don’t need a team of high paid psychologists to get people involved in your safety program, all you need is a bit of genuine concern for their welfare.
I hope that in 2011 you too discover the importance of positive interaction and the absolute necessity of a total commitment from everyone in your organization for a truly successful safety program. If you believe I can help then give me a call at 800 441 7676.