I Learned to Stop Talking About Injuries

April 5th, 2019

When I was a young safety guy coming out of school, I thought it was my job to prevent injuries. I talked about injuries and told people statistics about injuries all the time. 

Every time employees saw me coming they knew it was going to be a talk about injuries.

But did you know most people really don’t have serious injuries?

And when you talk about injuries, they’ll say, “That’s not me,” and flip the switch.

I was talking to them about the wrong thing.

Exposures can be controlled;
The word I use today instead of “injury” is “exposure.”

You get that employee who says, “I’ve worked here 25 years and I’ve never been hurt.” I’ll say, “Congratulations. Did you ever work a day of those 25 years without exposure to injury?”

He doesn’t know what to say because every day of his work life he was exposed to hazards.

Exposure is the cause and injury is the effect.

When we count off the injuries – the effects – we’re not preventing anything.

Safety won’t truly improve until we control, reduce or eliminate exposures.

Controlling exposures is something we can do job by job and task by task. It gives us a line-of-sight measure of success instead of the out-of-sight measure of failure, which is injury.