Safety: Making a Difference

Aug 16th, 2014 | By | Category: Health and Safety

EHS Journal - Sunset Over Portknockie Moray by Hedley Enterprises

Most of the time when the public hears about safety programs, it’s either in the context of some tragedy, or it’s presented as boring numbers. For example, the number of workplace fatalities over time:

 

EHS Journal - U.S. Fatalities from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

This graphic should evoke an emotional response in each of us, but it usually passes across our desk with little reaction. Why? Because we don’t see the human side of those numbers, and what an enormous impact safety has on the lives of people.

 

Real Stories, Real People

I can vividly remember the day many years ago that the impact of safety became real for me. There was no spectacular injury or tragic impact — just a chart and a story. I was onsite at a client facility, and they were describing to us how they had used data from our software to help augment their glove safety program. The data had shown that their most common injury was hand lacerations, and with the software they were able to identify where, when, and how these injuries were caused. Armed with specifics, they aggressively adjusted their PPE (personal protective equipment) program for hand and finger safety.

Now, some time later, they were showing us the results of that program. A chart from the software illustrating the reduction in hand injuries since implementing the program showed impressive results. This would have remained another uneventful and dry piece of data, if one of the people in the room hadn’t spoken up.

“Yeah, it’s been great. A few months ago Charlie got his hand caught in the machine. He got banged up, but if he hadn’t been wearing the gloves, he would have lost some fingers.”

And just like that it clicked. Charlie was someone we had just met during the facility tour. I didn’t know him beyond a simple hello, but he did have all his fingers intact. I immediately thought of how different Charlie’s life would be if he had lost fingers. Could he have dialed a phone? Driven a car? Would he have been able to tickle his children? Point to an item on a menu? Touch the face of someone he loves? And then it hit me that our software had contributed to this result. We had been part of the reason he could still do these things. That was a powerful moment.

 

The Impact of Safety

I think many of us don’t recognize the impact of safety because we only think about it when it affects us. It’s like breathing – you don’t typically think of the air around you until you have trouble breathing. But I believe it’s important to spend some time thinking about safety. And I have a deep appreciation for both the people who go in harm’s way every day to make our world work, as well as the people who strive to keep them safe.

Since the impact of safety was made real for me, I now spend every day thinking about how to make our software better able to achieve its root goal: to reduce impacts on people and the environment. It’s more than numbers in a chart or fields in a database — it’s changing the world for the better. And that feels pretty good.

 

About the Author

Jack Jones is the Technical Director at KMI where he has been a technology thought leader for 10 years. Mr. Jones has led the design and development of enterprise software systems in several verticals, including finance, telecommunications, energy, and EHS. He specializes in large scale architectural designs focusing on system performance, security and efficient data access. Jack is a champion of cutting edge technology and the application of best practices in agile systems design and development. He also has a keen interest in team building and organizational efficiency, and an ardent belief that technology and collaboration are key to a sustainable future.

KMI develops comprehensive EHS and sustainability software solutions that allow users to gain visibility, control risk, and improve performance across the organization. Solutions can be fully implemented in as little as four to six weeks.

Photograph: Sunset Over Portknockie, Moray by Hedley Enterprises, United Kingdom.

 

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One Comment to “Safety: Making a Difference”

  1. Kelly says:

    Good article and a nice grounding on who’s important. Unfortunately organizations can’t fully manage in human terms (if we did, wouldn’t we gauge success on earnings of employees instead of earnings of shareholders?).

    Safety has both a moral and a business component and one of the aspects that makes achieving success so difficult is finding a way to get those two in harmony.

    Thank you for the reminder.

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