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how people think about safety), and often they are emotional
stories that change people’s behaviors and lives. Even simple,
ordinary stories inspire people.
If you think you have no story to tell, ;nd someone who
does and is willing to share it.
“OK, how do I do that?” you ask.
• Personalize safety by posting pictures of important
things, such as family, hobbies and pets, and connect
those with safety. The photos will remind everyone that
safety is important. One organization posted a picture
of a worker standing in a stream holding a trout with
the caption, “This is why I lockout machinery before
• Use uniform chevrons, lapel pins or other trinkets to
recognize individual accomplishments. These, when
worn on outer garments, become conversation pieces that
lead to safety discussions.
• Tell stories that are simple, unexpected, concrete,
credible and emotional. Stories that have these charac-
teristics are memorable, according to brothers Dan and
Chip Heath in their book “Made to Stick: Why Some
Ideas Survive and Others Die.”
Leaders often get stuck on the numbers, which don’t trans-
late well with front-line employees who must be convinced of
safety’s importance. Changes — sometimes rapid ones — occur
in work environments: machines, tools, employees, supervisors,
managers, mergers, products, weather, etc. Each brings chal-
lenges and hazards. Strong safety cultures help organizations
navigate changes and adapt fast enough to prevent new hazards
from turning into the next fall protection issues.
Editor’s Note: Pat Karol will present “Selling Safety to
Front-Line Employees” from 10 to 11: 30 a.m. Thursday, Oct.
20 during the PEI Convention at the NACS Show in Atlanta.
Patrick J. Karol is a safety and health consultant with EEC Environmental. Reach him at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 267-528-9527.