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From the Plant Floor to the Ball Field, Safety Requires Leadership

From the Plant Floor to the Ball Field, Safety Requires Leadership

Early in most people's safety journey, people embrace two concepts: (1) the absence of injury does not mean the presence of safety and (2) seeing exposures doesn't stop when you leave work at the end of the day.

For those of you who know me you know that my weekends are spent traveling to various baseball fields in the southeast with my kids. Over the years my kids have had the normal bumps and bruises associated with playing the game. We were fortunate to not have any ""recordables"" until the summer of 2013 when Christian suffered a partially torn rotator cuff. He was on restricted duty for eight weeks as a result of the injury. This year he suffered a subluxating ulnar nerve, which led to eight more weeks of restricted duty. If mommas should let their babies grow up to be cowboys then daddies should let their sons grow up to be pitchers.

In thinking about my son's experience over the past two years, I wondered what I should have done differently to prevent these injuries. Should I have said something during the game when the stated pitch limit per game of 60 pitches became 70, then 80, then 90+? Should I have said he shouldn't be allowed to play the outfield a day after throwing 100 pitches? Should I have shut him down after his outfield throws were weaker than normal? What is the coach's role in ensuring player safety? Is it any different than what is expected of a supervisor at a job site?

I have learned from years in safety leadership development consulting that the best leaders have a clear workplace safety strategy. Their vision strives to create a workplace safety culture that puts the employee ahead of production. These leaders focus on identifying and eliminating exposures through behavior based safety systems, hazard assessments, incident investigation, and other workplace injury prevention programs. They hold workers accountable for following the rules because behavioral safety improvement means the wellbeing of everyone is precious. They empower workers to identify safety issues and create an environment where employees (and contractors) are comfortable approaching one another daily, including engaging in safety observations. Good is never good enough when it comes to safety.

This is the type of leader that you would want your son or daughter to work for.

The qualities we look for in our children's coaches are the same ones we look for in great safety leaders. Here are three questions to answer when looking for a great safety leader or coach:

  1. Does the coach have a training and development plan that improves performance and reduces risk of injury?
  2. Does the coach stick to the limits designed to reduce risk of injury even when the game is on the line?
  3. Does the coach leverage external expertise to continually improve training methods to reduce risk of injury?
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Sunday, 17 February 2019