Safety & HCM Post

What’s The Most Important Thing You’ve Learned About Safety?

Question:  There are so many important issues and ideas related to having a good safety program, sometimes it seems overwhelming. If you were to list the most important thing you have learned about safety over the years what would it be?

Answer:  That’s a great question and I think it speaks to the importance of each one of us as professionals to have a safety philosophy that guides us day in and day out, helps us make the difficult decisions and set priorities when revenues and resources may be scarce.

Here’s what I have come to believe and guides everything I do: There is no such thing as an accident. By definition, an accident is something that could not have been foreseen and/or prevented.  I just don’t believe that is true. I believe that with proper time and resources we can discover the cause of all “accidents” and then figure out the best way to reduce the risk that they will happen, or happen again.

I will certainly agree that sufficient resources may not exist to remove the possibility of every “accident” – risk management tells us that there is an acceptable level of risk and we have to balance reduction with cost. But once we decide “accidents” happen and they cannot be prevented, we take ourselves down a long and dangerous road that is difficult to retrace and we effectively stop the process of looking for reasons why.

Years ago I was asked to do a session on the 10 most important safety lessons I have learned over the years. There is no such thing as an accident is still number one, but there are some other ideas that I’m happy to share with you. They include:

  • WMP-MC – What Management Permits, Management Condones: An effective safety program starts at the top of the organization. It involves management commitment and management support.
  • I’m Watching You: Like it or not, all supervisors are role models for safe work practices. If you do it, your workers will too, and if you don’t do it…
  • Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: Planning ahead saves time in the long run and it decreases dangerous mistakes.
  • You’re Momma Doesn’t Work Here and Neither Does Your Dad:Clean up after yourself as you go. Take care of minor repairs yourself or tag it out of service. Stop waiting for someone else to do it.

You can check out the rest of Pam Walaski’s Top 10 slides here.

Question answered by Pam Walaski, CSP, CHMM, and president of JC Safety and Environmental Inc., Pittsburgh, PA.

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You can check out the rest of Pam Walaski’s Top 10 slides here. (



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