Where the Rubber Meets the Road in Safety

My opinion on the value of slogans has always been that they are great to read and look at, but until they are lived, they are of no value.

By Bill Dampf, C.S.P.
Let’s Talk Success Presentations

When I was a young safety professional, posters and slogans were a big deal. Catch phrases were used in an attempt to keep safety fresh. My opinion on the value of slogans has always been that they are great to read and look at, but until they are lived, they are of no value.

I remember one of the slogans we came up with was: “TEAM- Together Everyone Achieves More in Safety”

I liked that one, but just like all of the rest, it ran its course. It has stuck in my mind for all these years because I know and believe this statement is so very true. It may be hard to actually get everyone to act on it, but you can’t argue with the message.

If you think about how organizational success is attained in any area of business, it is seldom achieved alone or by a single individual. Many contribute through their involvement. The contributions are oftentimes different from one person to another based on their expertise and skills. At times, one person is carrying the major load or responsibility only to hand it off to the next contributor for him or her to do their part. The culmination of all these contributions results in success.

I was thinking about how I might illustrate this. I quickly came up with the rubber tires on our vehicles. If you think about the function of a tire, it’s quite the workhorse. It provides us traction, the ability to steer and stop. It supports thousands of pounds of machinery. But, when you think about the tire, it’s incredible to note how little rubber is actually in contact with the road at any given moment. Mere inches are doing all the work.

For us to be successful in safety, we collectively make up the tire on the vehicle to success. The great thing about this is that each of us is so different from one another. We are very diverse. We are of different generations, experiences and family backgrounds. We have different strengths and levels of knowledge. Some are technical geniuses and do amazing things out on the jobsite and in our plants. Some are great communicators and some are true leaders within their ranks. Some are creative and others have great energy. The thing to remember is that our differences help us succeed. As this tire of success rotates, we must recognize when it is our time to use our talent to carry the load, to make our contribution to success in safety.

I am asking each of you to determine your contribution to protecting yourselves and each other:
• Some of us must contribute through our role in job planning;
• Some will propose the next great idea;
• Some will share a near miss;
• Others will participate on a safety committee ;
• Our leaders, both formal and informal, will set the example of safety; and
• Our committed communicators will speak up when unnecessary risks are taken.

Caring conversations must occur when the well-being of our co-workers is in jeopardy. As the tire rotates, recognize when it is your turn to step up and support the effort.

Realize your talents and act. Help carry the load that will get you to Target Zero.

Bill Dampf is the retired Director of Corporate Safety and Health for a Midwest electric and natural gas utility. He has been in the safety profession for 36 years and an international speaker for 15. He has acquired both his BS degree and Masters degree in Industrial Safety, is a Certified Safety Professional and published author. In Bill’s spare time, he gets to travel on behalf of his own company, “Let’s Talk Success Presentations,” where he shares his passion for achieving personal success and success in safety with workers, companies, associations and at conferences across North America. Bill would welcome the opportunity to share a safety message with your workers. To contact Bill, call 573-230-3910, email him at bdampf@aol.com, or visit his website at www.ltspresentations.com.

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