Sounds good, doesn’t it? Looks good too in print on the list of corporate objectives but it doesn’t bring in those multi-million dollar bonuses to Corporate presidents or CEO’s.. Cutting costs, making profits, paying dividends, and furthering your own career are factors to figure into that #1 Priority and quite often it turns out that safety is just a six letter word meaning nothing. In these past sixty two years I have brought home checks from many of the best and the worst safety performers in the world. I presented in a tent surrounded by a thousand oil pumps and I’ve worked at nuclear sites. I went to the farthest point in America that you can drive a truck and basked on wonderful Florida beaches for the United States Air Force. I’ve worked in a jungle town for Hali-Burton too, that was in Tabasco, Mexico. I’ve traveled to fifty states for some of the largest corporations in America and for some of the smallest too. Most of them had signs that said something like Safety is #1 and many of them demanded that workers attend safety meetings with no pay on their own time just to show their employers that they cared about their jobs and wanted to keep them. Many figured you couldn’t shut down or slow down an operation for something as insignificant as a safety meeting. So many of them held safety meetings that were mostly unattended because those in charge did not even let it be know that a meeting was being conducted. My heart bled when I heard that a Marine who had just returned from a battle zone was not invited to a meeting and he died at the exact spot I had talked about doing exactly what I had warned about just hours earlier at that meeting. Something else was more important.
The next time you say that Safety is #1 take a good look at what you are saying and then perhaps you’d feel more honest if you say something like, “Safety is #5 or #6 or #7.” Then I challenge you to do something to make Safety really #1 at your place.
Update…June 15th, Government officials raise estimate of oil spewing from a well in the Gulf of Mexico to 35,000-60,000 barrels per day. Surprise! Surprise! They will soon be renaming it The Gulf of Oil.Stay tuned for one honest report. None so far.