The Zero Injury Debate

The big debate in safety circles is always about zero. That debate surfaced again last week with the passing of Paul O’Neil. You may remember him as the Treasury Secretary for George W. Bush. Safety Professionals remember him as the CEO of Alcoa in the late 90's and early 2000's who lead with safety and accomplished great things organizationally. Can we achieve zero injuries? I’ve been on both sides of that debate more than once in my work career. As a line supervisor, there was no way I could prevent every injury. People were just too stupid and we all know you can’t fix stupid. So, why bother trying. Today, I realize that debate misses the point. I believe we can achieve zero injuries. I b

Smiling, a Leadership Characteristic

I ran into a neighbor who had just returned from the grocery store. He talked about how shoppers seemed to be more on edge, short tempered, even rude today. We are in week 5 of this pandemic lock-down, so maybe that’s understandable. I often speak about the soft skills required to influence change or influence behavior. My neighbor's story reminded me of one of those skills I talk about, smiling! People who smile, manage more effectively, teach more effectively and sell more effectively. I’m talking about a heartwarming smile. A smile from the heart. There is so much more information in a smile than a frown. That’s why recognition is a better teacher than disciplinary action. If you are a le

Picking Up Trash...What are you doing?

We have a great opportunity while we are on lock-down to do something different. But that's the challenge. What can we do? Today, I decided to pick up trash in my neighborhood. Social distancing wasn't a problem since no one was out that early. What are you doing today to take advantage of this opportunity? Here are some ideas. Not all will apply due to social distancing. I especially like numbers 10, 18 (add healthcare workers), 44, 55 and 68. I can check number 73 off the list.

Thank a Janitor

At 21, I started my first full time job at Delta Air Lines. It was a dream come true to work in the airline industry at that time. My job? I was a janitor. I cleaned bathrooms. I cleaned the same 3 bathrooms, twice a day in one of the hangars in Atlanta. Some might say that was a demotion from my previous job at the glass bottle factory, or that I was really starting from the bottom. I suppose based on their standards, it was. But, I loved it! Not just because I was getting a full time paycheck with benefits. Nor was it because of all the thanks I received for providing a clean bathroom which wasn’t many. I loved it because I felt it was challenging, meaningful and purposeful. It was challe

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