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Selling Safety 101

Selling Safety 101

Lesson 1


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I want you to imagine this scenario:

You’ve just been hired as a new safety manager and you’ve been hired to turn the culture around.

The culture’s been sinking, injury rates are up, worker’s comps are up, insurance premiums are up, employee engagement is down…and you’re charged with turning that around.

Your boss comes to you says “I want you to introduce yourself for the frontline employees next Monday morning.”

You think to yourself: “Great, I got a chance to set expectations right up front. To tell them what I think about safety.” 

The time comes and you’re with your boss. You get there early and he’s pointing out people as they come into the room.
“There’s Frank, he drives a forklift. It’s brand-new, he’s just hoping nothing happens to himself.
Over there, that’s Pete. He works in plant maintenance. He’s just doing his 8 hrs.

Now see that guy sitting back in the corner of the room? That’s Moe. He’s been here for 30 years, you can’t tell him anything.

You see that lady who just sat down in the front row, that’s Helen, the director of HR. She get it, safety’s important, but she really doesn’t know what to do about it. She’d make a really good ally for you.”

So you get introduced and you walk further down group and you think, “yeah I got this.”

“Hi, I am your new safety manager. Safety is non-negotiable. It’s a condition of employment and I’ll be working on some new procedures and some new training. I’ve been working on a new disciplinary action program and conducting some unannounced audits!”

Well what do you think the reaction would be?

Yeah, you’re right.
“Holy cow, what have we gotten into?” 

The reality is that there are a lot of reasons why our frontline employees may not be engaged in safety.
Oftentimes that reason lies with us, the safety manager, the ops manager, even the supervisor, and how we talk about safety.

The good news is that we don’t have to work any harder to change that. We might have to work a little bit different.

A few years ago I gave a safety presentation.
The feedback was really good, but had a couple of people who said, “Hey you know what? That was great, but I don’t have a problem with management, my problem is selling safety to a frontline employee.”

“How do I get them to do what I want them to do?” 
That made me think, “What exactly do I know about selling safety to the front line employee?” 

It prompted me to read it to reflect on my entire work career.

Thanks for reading! Let’s continue on to the next section. 

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