Achievement requires safety

LinkedIn and other  social media often includes “inspirational” posters and memes.  They are eye-catching and often funny but they can also be thin and simple.  This simplicity can reinforce thoughts that may work against being safe.  The image on the right is an example.

It may be true that hard work will take you to the top but safe work will make sure you get there.  The OHS profession should respond to some of these posters and aphorisms, not to negate the message, but to provide an additional context to them.

We could edit the slogan to include the word “safe”.  We could we begin a “meme war” by trying to outdo each other. But it may be more useful to collate some of the inspirational images and use them in our corporate and staff presentations by concluding the presentation by pointing out that nothing will be achieved if a worker is killed or injured on their path of inspiration or entrepreneurship.

In this way we can use the modern, inspirational, innovation trend to emphasise the risk of not considering safety as an integral element on this path, or of sacrificing safety in the race to the top.

Safety is an essential part of innovation and growth. Without being safe, innovation and growth may be cancelled or less sustainable. And then, what was the point?

Kevin Jones

Categories communication, education, infographic, innovation, OHS, productivity, safety, safety cultureTags , ,

4 thoughts on “Achievement requires safety”

  1. Kevin- your illustration in this so clearly supports an issue that many businesses still continue to misrepresent – that hard work will always get you there in the end, whereas businesses that are really in touch and on top of things nowdays push the message that it is not how hard you work (connotations of excessive work hours and fatigue) althouhg we do know statistically that Australian still genrallywork more hours thatn their overseas counterparts. the message now is about working smarter and it is this message that should be ingrained and built in at all levels of the safety culture and debates. Working smarter can have a significant tendancy to better identify risks, reduce work load by doing it right the first time (which in effect can mean you actually have more time to work it hrough safety and steadily becuase you are not worried about whether you have aneough time left to redo it) and thereby reducing costs and more importantly injuries at all levels. I cuncur that teh safety fraternity need to take an active role in supporting the correct messages to our workforces and employees and this does need to be at all levels of the busiiness and reinforced by appropriate actions and reactions to ensure we all get it right! If this does not occur tehn mediocrity continues and eventually Safety jsut becomes anotehr department with questionable relevance and no real improvments are seen in any of the statistics that companies are required to keep or report on.

    1. Stephen, I think working smarter could free up time in which working more safely could be considered but why would a company give safety precedence over using that time to, instead, increase profitability?

      I think safety needs to be seen as important or as more important to the long-term profitability of a company for business owners to devote the time required to improve safety. I think this is the area where more thought and research is deserved.

      This may strengthen the morality argument in favour of safety, or any other argument, but the dominant belief in business is that safety is a cost and a drag on profits. We must whittle away at these (I believe) false beliefs if safety innovation is to even be listened to by business owners. There is some information available but not enough to convince a large business owner to state publicly something like:

      “We want our company to be profitable and return good dividends to our shareholders. But we are not prepared to do this at the cost of the health and safety of our workers and our customers. To achieve this outcome, profits may be reduced and dividends smaller, but our company will be stronger and more sustainable as a result.”

      Environmental pressure groups and the application of Corporate Social Responsibility have had some effect but not specifically on worker safety or at least those workers in the companies’ home country. OHS can learn from the environmental activism but needs to be, and be seen as, separate from environmental issues in order to gain its own credibility.

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