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Unknown and Dangerous

Unknown and Dangerous
Six Secrets of Safety


You would think the last thing we want to have is secrets about safety. Just imagine how that conversation goes. “Well, we would like to help you to avoid injury but I’m afraid that information is classified.” Seriously. Classified under what? Stupidity?

Surely, all the information we need to be safe at a basic level is available to everyone—or, at the bare minimum, to all those in charge of safety programs. At least, that’s what common sense would tell us. As it turns out, it’s not exactly true. A lot of safety information may be known in specific industries or in certain circles, but it’s largely not discussed or implemented in all industries.

As the saying goes, the truth hurts—but withholding key safety information obviously hurts a lot more.

Below are six secrets of safety and the reasons they’re so important.

  1. A high percentage of back injuries come from lifting items that don’t weigh much. Repetitive lifting of lighter objects, without using the same technique that heavy-object lifting calls for, causes as many injuries as trying to lift that big bag of fertilizer that weighs slightly more than a Backstreet Boy.
  2. Companies with the best safety records are almost always the most productive and profitable. Those cigar-chomping executives in the early 1980s who said things like “We’re not in the safety business; we’re in the ‘making money’ business” were 100% dead wrong! There is a direct and consistent correlation with performance, profitability, success and great safety records. It seems the safest idea to emerge from the ’80s was shoulder pads for women.
  3. The biggest problem in safety. We often hear that slips, trips and falls are the most common causes of injury. In fact, approximately 17,000 people are killed annually as a result of preventable slips, trips and falls. However, obesity leads to 30,000 deaths each year. So, statistically, it’s much safer to be clumsy than it is to be overweight. I guess that means no one is in more danger than an uncoordinated guy in stretch pants!
  4. A really good safety track record by an individual can be extremely dangerous. As strange as it seems, if someone has a great track record but doesn’t do things the safe way, many people who lack that person’s skills and ability may copy this “safety star” and become injured because of it. The lesson here: knowing that success can create failure is the key to success. (I had to reread that sentence twice and I wrote it, so don’t feel bad.)
  5. The best safety program on earth is nearly useless without engaged employees. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but unless your employees feel valuable and look out for each other, it doesn’t matter how well received your safety program has been. Complacency and lack of awareness are the No. 1 side effects among people who don’t like their job. And, as an added negative bonus, research shows they are the most likely to sue you. That makes unhappy employees also a danger to your finances!
  6. How safe are we really? Though we are arguably safer than we’ve ever been on the job, there are many occupations that have over 100 people killed per 100,000 on an annual basis. Some of those jobs would surprise you, including white collar jobs that involve no physical labor. That means one of the most dangerous things you can be is … employed.

My purpose in revealing these secrets is not to scare anybody. If you’ve heard me speak at a safety convention, watched my videos or read my books or articles, you know that’s not my style. Fear-based influence is fleeting. My goal is to prompt you to look deeply into safety and the potential for injury and fatalities in your organization and at home. Additionally, please share the information you’ve learned from your industry so it might help others in theirs. (On that note, I thank those who contributed to the creation of this list.) They say the truth will set you free-and, as it turns out, that includes being incident free.

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Garrison Wynn is a nationally known keynote speaker, author, and consultant. He is the CEO and founder of Wynn Solutions, specializing in how people and organizations can be more influential.

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