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What Can President-Elect Donald Trump Teach Us About Safety?

December 7, 2016

donald-trump.jpgAfter reading the title of this blog entry I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “I can’t wait to read this one” (insert sarcastic look here). However, you’re going to need to stick with me on this one, because the answer to my initial question is…a lot. So let me explain exactly how.

Let’s start at the beginning of the industrial revolution and take a look at safety over time. Going back to the early 1900’s if we take a look at the number of fatalities and serious injuries we can see a dramatic drop over time. The question is why? There are several reasons that have facilitated the change, let’s look at a few.

  • Government Regulation – Legislation like child labor laws and the introduction of OSHA made an amazing impact on workplace safety.

  • Profitability Taking it a step further, companies began to realize the impact safety had on production; lost-time incidents affected not only the bottom line by taking well trained workers off the production floor, it also hit their profitability regarding insurance claims and increased worker’s compensation premiums.

  • Labor Unions – Unions played a large part in safety by advocating for their members and limiting their exposure to hazardous working conditions.

  • Training – Safety training has played a large role by teaching proper technique and procedure when operating equipment and working in a specific environment.

  • Procedures – Documentation of best practices and procedures when performing tasks has helped reduce incidents. Procedures are a great example of learning from our mistakes.

  • PPE – Personal protective equipment has played a huge part (or should I say, “yuuuge”?). The advancement of PPE has reduced the risk of injury dramatically and as technology continues to develop, the equipment will also.

However, with all of these advancements in regulation, training, and PPE, why is it that when taking a look at overall safety incidents for the past thirty years we see very little change? Sure, some industries have seen improvement, but if you look at fatalities and injuries as a whole across the United States you’ll see very little movement. The reason is we’ve captured all the “low hanging fruit.”

Safety professionals continue to add more and more of the same and expect a different result – more training, more procedures, more PPE. If you remember only one thing from this post, make it this: more of the same ≠ continued improvement.

Which brings me to my initial question, “What can President-Elect Donald Trump can teach us about safety?” A lot of people were shocked and astonished when Donald Trump won the Presidential election last month. After all, when you look at his background you’ll find:

  • An accomplished business professional

  • Someone who has never held an elected office

  • A brash and unapologetic individual

  • No experience working in government

So how does a man like Donald Trump rise to the presidency of the United States? The electorate decided that more of the same ≠ continued improvement. In order get a different result the nation needed to try something different, a different type of leader. If job growth is stagnant, energy production flat, and national security at risk under the typical politician, then let’s not elect the typical politician. Let’s elect someone with a different vision. To quote from Rita Mae Brown’s novel, Sudden Death, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” (sorry if you thought that was and Einstein quote…it’s not)

The same can be said for safety. In order to get a different result, organizations need to try something different. Stop treating safety as a one size fits all, sheep dipping process. People are different – they learn differently and they react differently under stress. The key is for individuals to learn their differences in order to mitigate risk. If you know your blind spots, you are far more likely to account for them when performing a task, thereby working safer.

In my next post we’ll take a look at what factors drive those individual differences and how you can know your blind spots.

Blind Spots: 4 Psychological Factors That Can Get Your Injured

David Juristy David Juristy is Vice President of Sales, and the executive leader of PSI’s safety practice. He has used his background in Industrial Operations and military training in Quality & Safety compliance to work with many of today’s top companies to implement safety solutions.