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Instead of “Safety First”, We Should Be Saying …

Posted by Jonathan Klane on Aug 23, 2021 5:00:00 PM

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You’ve seen it before. 

It’s everywhere. At entrances to sites, on reminder signs, and company swag. 

“Safety first!” Uh-huh, sure. When you got some coffee, shaved, drove or rode, walked into work, started your workday, etc., did you say to yourself, “safety first”? Or at least, did you think of safety before the task? 

No? Yeah, me neither. So, if it’s so important, then why don’t we do it?

It’s not natural. We have a task to accomplish, so we focus on our task at hand. It’s perfectly natural, too. If we don’t think “safety first,” why do we expect workers to do so? Good question. Likely, it’s become a catchphrase that’s been repeated so many times, we believe it (referential validity). It’s in our safety lexicon. And it feels good.  

So, what would make more sense? What is more natural? What might be accomplishable? “Safety with …”. It’s what we want people to do.  While you’re performing your task, please incorporate safe practices during it. “Safety with …”. Let’s try it out and see how it might work.

Safety with research. 

Safety with construction. Safety with driving. Safety with work. Did you see how it flows so easily? And it makes sense. Engage in safe behaviors while performing the task or assignment. Only that’s too long – so instead, safety with. And it embeds safe behaviors into our processes, which is really what most safety folks want. “Hey Jon, while you’re on your daily 5-mile bike ride, please engage in safe behaviors!” 

Okay, sure – that I can do!  

And did you notice that “safety” still comes first? From now on, it’s “safety with.”  

Next: Let’s stop talking about mere safety – instead, let’s discuss …  

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