Safety is Air

What’s the reason your organization exists?

Profit? Shareholder value? Federal law? Service? The customer?

What about your work in EHS?

When companies espouse “Safety First“, it often conflicts with organizational purpose. Its purpose is not safety (nor is it accounting, operations, sales, flying aircraft, or discovering oil).

Safety is air. And like air, you don’t miss it until it’s gone. When was the last time you thought about air? Hold your breath and in 15 seconds you’re reminded how vital oxygen is. (Note: this is the reason that your budget increases when people are killed and injured.)

But your purpose isn’t air…it isn’t to simply breathe in and out. Your purpose is the purpose of the organization. And like every performance athlete, your company needs air. They just don’t think about it all the time. This doesn’t make senior leaders short-sighted nor ignorant…but simply normal.

*For more on purpose begin with Jim Collins’ “Built to Last” and Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”.

 

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