We have all heard it & if I am being honest I have said it myself many times, “make safety a priority”. This language has been pervasive in industry over the last decade. Slogans such as “safety first” or “prioritize safety” are filtering throughout jobsites as we speak. While these priority-based safety initiatives are likely founded in sound motivation, I feel they are missing an opportunity for deeper penetration into the motivations of the individual.
The dictionary defines priority as “a thing that is regarded as more important than another”. A colleague of mine, Bill Wilsey frequently uses an analogy that really drives home the point I am trying to make. Bill will tell employees that he has many priorities. Over the course of his weekend his priorities include mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage and getting groceries. These are all priorities that he has set aside for the weekend “To-Do List”. But when his kids call him and ask him to come help them work on their car, all of his weekend priorities get pushed to the side. At the core of his being, his family is a value that he places before all other priorities. If his kids need something, he will drop everything to get it done.
This analogy illustrates perfectly the point I am trying to make. Safety needs to be personal. Safety is not a priority that is placed in line with the other “To-Do List” items for the day. Safety is a value that has very personal implications. The message needs to be that safety is a value, because you – the individual – are the one that safety affects. Safety is a value because you are willing to drop everything else on your priority list to accommodate safety. Safety makes a difference to you first and foremost!
The message that we strive to get across is that safety is personal. The injuries that we are aiming to prevent have very real consequences to individuals & to families. Safety is a value because we choose to make it a personal mission. We choose to make safety a value, not just a priority.