"Thanks, Mr. Rob, for keeping Dad and me safe today"

I was the turnaround guy at a machine shop seven years ago where I worked long hours, wore lots of hats and bore more responsibilities than I was capable of handling.

The practice of transferring knowledge to people around me was out of the question then; I had no time for such trivial pursuits. My time was tied up with e-mails, meetings and worrying about the invasion of China and India into our domestic manufacturing.

On a day when it seemed like the stress level was peaking at our facility, we decided to invite in our employees' children for "Take Your Kids to Work" day.

I got caught up in the experience when one teenager, Tahara, was seated near my desk; 14 years old and from an immigrant family, she is mentally and physically challenged.

Tahara handed me a picture she'd drawn at lunch, a happy face with the words, "Thanks, Mr. Rob, for keeping Dad and me safe today."

I kept Tahara's picture on my office wall as a constant reminder that Safety is Personal - to every person working or at home.

Here's what I've learned from Tahara, and everything else that's happened to me since:

  • I need to stay open to changing my attitude about safety at work.
  • Safety is not just another task on the list - it's a personal priority.
  • The fear of asking a stupid question about safety is a stupid fear.
  • Safety is a non-negotiable item.
  • Safety is knowledge I can use at home.
  • Safety is an integral part of production and profit.

What are your own personal experiences around safety or your close calls on the job and at home or your attitude about it all.. let me know.

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