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Target ZERO Injuries – Yes You Can!

We have been on this zero-injury trek for more than a few years and many supervisors and managers are tired of chasing the goal.  Some are saying, “Is it the best goal?”  “Is it a goal we can ever reach?”  “If people keep making mistakes, we will always have injuries… won’t we?”  Pursuing a goal such as zero injuries is not for sissies, pantywaists and non-professionals.  The goal is one that is set and obtained by people who act as professionals and are courageous enough to make it happen.

Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others ~ Winston Churchill 

The target of zero injuries is achieved on the job every day.  Every day people are hurt and some are maimed and killed doing a job.  In most cases (about 99.7%) we can look at the incident and say, “They should have done…” and name something that would have prevented the event.  The truth is that after the ambulance has left the job site, everyone can come up with a way to prevent the event.

We safety professionals and members of management are great at going to safety conferences and listening to the enlightened speaker talk about “how to” prevent injuries.  On the return trip, we prepare to educate a waiting workforce and dazzle them with cool new programs that are sure to work… this time!  The workforce looks up and says, “Oh crap!  Not again!”

Everyone knows how to prevent injuries if they have an understanding of the mitigation process.  Why is it that we make injury prevention complex?  One reason is that many of the injured are the same people injured repeatedly.  Not every time, but often enough that the “frequent fliers” are discussed behind closed doors… “Well if it wasn’t for Fred, Judy, and Bob your injury rate would be 0.000001.

People get hurt because they think they are not going to get hurt, and then they take risks.  Supervisors push their crews to produce more while talking about putting safety first.  Management says to the safety trainer, “Can’t you get that safety training down to a half-day instead of a full day… we’ve got work to do.”  Executives talk about supporting a safety culture but don’t spend time on the job site to make sure the message is making it to the people where it matters the most.

Workers must take charge of their own safety.  This includes signing up to be on the safety committee.  I don’t know how many of my clients have workers who refuse to be involved in safety unless there is a free meal.  Once my wife the PhD. did a study while we were doing a month-long road trip through a large organization where I spoke every day to a new site.  She wanted to hear what the workforce thought about the company’s commitment to safety.  When she asked, the workforce complained that there were “No chocolate donuts!” She literally heard this at every single site we visited!

Safety in an organization boils down to several things that are really simple.  Since OSHA began writing rules and regulations to create safe workplaces in the United States people, have complained.  Nobody wants to follow the rules, so people have bad attitudes towards safety.

Our attitude is a product of what we want, value, believe, think, and feel.  If you think wearing safety glasses is a stupid idea in an area where dust, debris, and sparks are flying then you are going to be found not wearing them.  If you believe that it is the safety department’s job to find and fix hazards, you will walk right past a hazard and say, “The safety department is falling down on the job.”  If managers are not asking the right questions about safety, then they will never know if safety is really a “core value.”  The simple message is –  nobody wants to get hurt on purpose.  If workers can’t seem to follow the rules, then maybe it’s a leadership problem!

If we can align everyone from the top-down through the organization to grasp the vision of a safe worksite, zero injuries will likely occur.  This means that everyone must change their attitude.  Safety can’t be just talk; it must be embraced physically, emotionally, and with reverence.  When everyone realizes that to keep people from getting hurt, you have to want it to happen.  When the desire for zero injuries is embraced by the workforce because leadership throughout the organization supports the efforts, the result is a workplace where it is difficult to get hurt.


Want to know more… good.  Order my new book Conquest for Safety: Leadership Required at: (heck, order the all my books).  Then do something original, read and apply the ideas!  If you really want to put this to work call my office and see if my schedule is open to come and talk to your leadership and workforce.  You can call on my dime at 800.259.6209 or email me at and ask me “what the heck are you talking about!” I look forward to discussing it with you.


2 Responses to Target ZERO Injuries – Yes You Can!

  • Steve cunningham says:

    This was a powerful blog that accurately demonstrates the need for everyone to be on board and pulling in the same direction. This was very revealing that the responsibility belongs to everyone. Thanks for the SUMMATION of responsibilities.

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