Safety in business is nothing new. It’s as old as business itself. After all, safety is rooted in nothing more than our human instinct to protect ourselves.
The problem throughout history has been that the natural impulse for self-protection often gets stifled. There are several reasons for this:
- Complacency. Personnel become so comfortable with doing certain tasks that they forget about the dangers.
- Urgency. In business, there’s always pressure to increase production and lower costs, and this pressure can sometimes become so urgent that it crowds out thinking about workplace safety. (In the worst cases, companies implicitly--or even explicitly—condone unsafe practices because of short-term financial and operational pressures.)
- Unawareness. Sometimes personnel and employers simply don’t realize the dangers that exist.
How to counter these causes for poor workplace safety? A great way is to relate safety to personel danger. Go straight to the instinct for self-protection, reminding personnel that safety is in their best interest and to always be on the lookout for things that that can hurt them.
This “protect yourself” strategy for promoting safety awareness is nothing new, either. It’s been used for decades, as evidenced in this video clip from 1970 about an unfortunate fellow who came to be known as “Three-Fingered Joe.” The video production may seem campy now, but the message is just as relevant today as it was then—poor safety often has tragic personal consequences.
The sad reality is that there are still too many Three-Fingered Joes.