Changing Minds and Shifting Perspectives: The Reality of Zero Injuries

A red target visual with "Target Zero" in large letters. "No incidents. No injuries" in smaller letters.

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” – Vince Lombardi

Lets take a moment to reflect on the “impossibles” in history that are now a reality; electricity, putting a man on the moon, cell phones, vehicles that are more advanced than the first Mercury 1 capsule, and the list goes on. Sure, these are all technology based, but there was a common mindset that needed to be overcome to accomplish these monumental achievements; the mindset that it’s impossible.

I’ve been carrying the torch and beating the drum of Zero Injuries for 12 years, and I’m still marching on.  It’s all about aligning in a belief system that we won’t tolerate any injuries. If we are not striving for zero injuries, then we are saying that injuries are ok, that they’re acceptable, which is absolutely not okay.

Before the second Industrial Revolution of the early 1900’s, it was acceptable to consider that you could die to earn a paycheck. People were viewed as tools to generate revenue, they weren’t viewed as living, breathing human beings with feelings, emotions, abilities, families…value. There weren’t any employee protections then, there were labor laws, but padding a handshake with officials made them turn a blind eye to the poor conditions that employees were working in and the hazards they were unnecessarily being exposed to. One in every 686 people died at work in 1900, truly disturbing.

In the US, we no longer view a paycheck as something to die for.  You don’t have to risk your life to support yourself and your family. We have OSHA (enacted in 1970) and firm federal, state, and local labor laws that serve to protect workers, and thereby eradicate the mindset that people have no value other than making money off them. With these entities in place, the fatality rate for 2022 was 1 for every 32,600. We’ve made great strides, but we need to keep striving for the zero mark; and it’s only achievable if we believe that it can be a reality.

If we all take a moment to realize that we can’t tolerate or accept that injuries are unavoidable, we can all make a difference. If we take time to firmly stand and say, “no one is going to get hurt on my project”, then we are already working toward the goal of zero injuries. Through teamwork, collaboration, and dedication, we can make zero injuries a reality, because I believe that it’s already a possibility, we just have to make it so.

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