The Day Safety Died

The new boss was hired from a different region and no one was sure of what to expect. At the Monday morning meeting, she walked in and led a round of introductions amongst the senior staff. When the time came for the EHS director to introduce himself, he gave his name and a brief description of his role. The new boss smiled and emphasized how important safety and health had been in her career, and specified a significant near-miss which drove her management style even today.

Then she asked, “What’s the one thing you’d change or implement here to make the biggest impact on EHS, if you had unlimited resources?”

The EHS director looked stunned. He paused, then stumbled through a tirade on compliance, accountability and personal protective equipment.

The new boss closed her eyes, bit her top lip, and continued with the introductions.

That was the last time EHS was mentioned in a senior director meeting at the plant. It was the day that safety died.

I watched the meeting happen and saw my EHS boss stumble. It was early in my career and I never forgot the lessons. In that moment, I learned to be prepared. I learned to have a vision and priorities. I learned that clear communication, backed by substantive data and a plan for implementation, is often stronger than any other tool the EHS professional can wield. I vowed to never let safety die on my watch.

Will you be ready?

 

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