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The Safety Guru Podcast with Kina Hart



Workplace Safety is critical for employees to be able to go home to their loved ones each and every day. In this episode we explore the importance of Safety Leadership and effective Safety Culture in the workplace with Kina Hart, an inspirational speaker for Workplace Safety who tragically lost her arm in a summer job workplace accident. Tune in as she shares her insights on safety communication and participation, active caring and the zero tolerance method.


Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-Suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops and The Safety Guru public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi and welcome to The Safety Guru. Today I’m very excited to have with me Kina Hart, who’s safety speaker, travels all around the country in normal days, but as much in covid times talking about the importance of safety, the impact on families. So welcome to the show. Really excited to have you with me today.

Thank you, Eric. I’m very excited to be here and I appreciate this opportunity.

Excellent. Thanks. So, Kina, why don’t you start up by sharing a little bit about your you got to this space where you’re you speak about safety to so many different companies across the US.

Great. I think that’s a fantastic place to start. I, I actually was injured in a workplace accident when I was 20 years old. I was a sophomore in college, heading to Alaska for the summer to work to pay for the remainder of my at least I thought the remainder of my college, but at least a year. So, my best friend and I decided to go to Alaska and work in the fish processing industry up there because it’s a great summer job where, you know, you can make quite a bit of money.

We got up there, though, and there wasn’t any work happening. We were all sitting around waiting for the fish to come in. I was getting pretty anxious about that because I really needed this job and I really needed it to help me pay for school. So, I ended up going to my foreman and basically begging him to let me work and to tell you the truth, I probably wasn’t going to take no for an answer. And he reluctantly, but he did decide to go ahead and let me work the next day on the cleanup crew.

Unfortunately, I presented myself as somebody who knew what I was doing, and I didn’t, I had no prior knowledge of this industry, I had no experience and we were just cleaning conveyor belts. It was a team of us. There’s five of us there that morning and somebody turned them a conveyor belt on while I was cleaning it. And I ended up getting my left arm tangled into the ANDULA that resulted in a traumatic amputation of my left arm and a complete change of my life.

From then on, I spent a lot of time in the hospital. I spent a lot of time recovering. But all in all, I feel like. Being faced with that adversity, right, so young. I feel like I was so happy and so grateful to be alive, that that’s part of the reason that I recovered so well. It took me about a year to recover. Throughout my life, though, I’ve always wanted to talk to people about my injury and thinking it would be a great maybe a motivational piece.

Now, through all that, I’ve talked to other people and they knew what happened to me and then came along and said, hey, we really story would work well with our business, can you come and talk to our people about safety and what went wrong the day you got hurt? And I said, sure, I’d love to do that. And I did that. And it was so well received that that was the very day I decided to start my business.

And that was 10 years ago. And that very day I started my company and I started speaking and I just asked people, hey, if you know somebody that I could come talk to, please let them know that I’m available and I’m ready to do this. And it has snowballed from there. And I’ve loved every second of it because I feel like this is truly my purpose. It’s my passion. And that’s exactly what I feel like I’m meant to do.

That’s phenomenal. And it’s really amazing that you’ve taken this opportunity to share in the story and really communicate the importance of safety across different organizations. Can you maybe share a little bit about the impact that safety has on families and loved ones and both from your personal experience but also from some of the interactions you had with people as you travel?

Yes, definitely. That’s one of the biggest parts of my presentation, honestly, is that ripple effect that happens when somebody is injured. When I was injured. And who I talk about most in my presentation is my dad. It crushed my dad. And this injury was 30 years ago. Still to this day, my dad, he doesn’t want to have a conversation about it. It hurts him to his core to think his little girl was up in Alaska and almost died.

I was resuscitated three times. But, you know, I’m Daddy’s girl, and he felt so guilty that he wasn’t able to pay for school. For me, that’s the reason was going to Alaska to pay for college. And his guilt comes from I wish that I had the money and I wish I would have just gotten a different job and paid for school for you. So, when I have memories of being in the hospital and having my dad at my bedside crying, I mean, just my strong dad who’s a logger, you know?

Those memories are difficult. And I’ll tell you, out of all my memories and when I think about this injury, that’s what breaks my heart to this day, is other people’s stories about what happened that day and how they felt and how it impacted and how it changed the life. Not necessarily all bad, but most of them are the stories are heartbreaking. It’s my dad, me picturing my dad answering the phone and just. Crying, sitting on the floor, crying after my sister found out he didn’t even know where to go or or what to do, you know, it’s my mom dropping to her knees is the heartbreaking.

So, when I think about stuff like that, it’s still so fresh, even this long, this has happened a while ago. And I hear people when I’m speaking at companies and they come and they talk to me afterwards, they tell me about their own personal story. I am not kidding you when I tell you that one hundred percent of the time, that’s where their heartbreak is to its look at what I’ve done to my family. Look at the people that I’ve hurt because I made a choice that I thought maybe it was OK or maybe I didn’t think it was OK, but I didn’t think about the fact that it would hurt other people.

I think that’s an incredibly powerful message, and in many cases, it may not even be realizing that this choice could have such ramifications, so many people make choices that can get them in harm’s way, not even necessarily expecting what could happen. One of the things that when we’ve talked about when we connected originally talked about that really resonated with me was really this concept of making safety personal. Speaking from the heart, you’re obviously doing that now. Too often I see leaders, executives not putting enough heart, enough making it personal.

Can you can you talk more about what you’ve seen in this front and how leaders can show up in such a way that really does make a difference?

One of the things that I’ve seen traveling too different. Companies, if you can almost feel when somebody has a good safety culture, you can almost feel it right when you walk in through the door, there is a different attitude with their employees and there’s a different attitude and leadership. And so, I’ve wondered along the way, why is that? Why is it that some places seem like they like they have it together, they have it going on, they are keeping their people safe and they’re all on board.

And then you walk into another place and you have. Almost a dissension between leadership and workers, like there’s no teamwork, there’s it’s not a together, it’s not a family, I guess I would say. And one of the things that I’ve seen in the difference is. Those. Very heartfelt, very sincere, very genuine leaders that are really in there with their employees and they’re letting them know every day, hey, I’m here for you. If there’s an issue that’s a safety issue, you’ve got to let me know because I’m not there.

You are. So, you’re the person I’m relying on to let me know that you need something. But then that leader takes it a step further and actually does something about it. When somebody does come to them with some type of complaint or worry or, you know, somewhere where they’re saying safety isn’t a priority. These companies that have safety be a priority. It’s not just a priority with statistics and with numbers and that type of thing. It’s a priority within the people they see.

Their employees are wanting this. They’re not doing it because they have to. They’re not doing it because they’re trying to get a number up or trying to save the company money. They’re doing it because they’re actually finally they’re on board with, hey, this is about me. This is about me going home safe to my family. And my company agrees with that. My company is saying they care enough about me to keep me safe. What I see is that leadership and safety.

It has to be one hundred percent of the time, it can’t be, it can’t be. We’re going to be safe most of the time where our employees are going to be safe only when we’re watching them. But you’re motivating your employees to be safe 100 percent of the time because they’re making it personal. They’re making it about their stuff themselves and really great leaders. Make that happen.

Yeah, I couldn’t echo that more. I would have come to the same conclusion is, is leaders that are great safety leaders have a way to personalize that. They have a story there, why it matters why it is relevant. They’re asking people to do more. And I think that’s so important is it can be something as just about a statistic. It can’t be about making a no bonus. No, it’s got to be something that they hold from the heart and really want to make a genuine difference.

Think about a new team member. Come on board. How do I make sure that I convey the importance of safety? It’s not about the company because it’s not even about the safety person, because the safety person, it could be a new person that comes in. But you can’t replace the impact that you’ve had on some of these families or loved ones, et cetera.

Right. And if you think about when I’m speaking, it’s one of the things that I say when I’m speaking. And I truly believe that I do not want to go to a meeting and talk to somebody who’s had. I literally am trying to connect with their heart, because if you think about your own memories and your life and things that you’ve done, the things you remember and the things that are impactful to you are things that have touched your heart.

So somehow you make that connection and you can make a connection with safety and somebody’s feelings and somebody’s heart because it’s there. It is that it’s their family. It’s why they would want to work safe, why they want to go home today with both their arms and both their legs and every part of their body connected. You know, it’s those things that we need to put together and there really needs to be. And this can only come from leadership.

I think there needs to be an absolute zero tolerance for any violations in policy and procedures. This has to be there. And to me, putting it there and having that zero tolerance is showing, hey, I care enough about you that I’m going to protect you. And 100 percent of the time, this is going to be the way it’s going to be, period. I like the example of the parenting. And that is if you think about us as parents.

Every time we get in the car, we make our kids buckle your seat belt. Zero tolerance for anything other than you, but the bulk of your seatbelt you don’t want isn’t going to drive the car until your seatbelts on. And that doesn’t change. And if I think about my own kids, this has been from day one in their lives. And the minute they get in the car, they buckle their seat belts. That’s because zero tolerance and why do I do that, because I love my kids so much and I don’t want them to get hurt and I know that that’s something that.

Going to help protect them now, on the other hand, in all honesty. When my kids are out riding their bikes or skateboarding, they wear helmets and elbow parts. But if they’re riding their bikes just around the driveway, I don’t always make them wear their helmet. So, my kids don’t always just go get their helmet when they get their bike, I have to tell them. So why is that? It’s because I haven’t had a zero-tolerance policy on that, I’ve let that slip.

I’ve let them once in a while ride their bikes without a helmet. Well, I’m telling you, kids are going to go ride the bike without a helmet if they can get away with it. Because it’s easier. It’s quicker. It’s oh, I don’t really need it. But doesn’t that parallel us as adults when we’re in the workplace? If we see there’s a place where we there isn’t going to be a zero tolerance and maybe we can get away with it this time.

And gosh, it’s a lot quicker if I don’t have to, you know, I don’t want to have to put my you have their hard hat on or I don’t want to have to, whatever it might be, walk out that machine this time. I’m just going to really quiet, go in there and fix it. And that is seen or noticed by leaders that lets it go. Well, then it’s going to be more likely that’s going to happen again.

Right. And but I think a lot of it also depends on how it’s done, because what you’re talking about is from a product standpoint, it comes with would love you care about the person. I think it gets me to the to the next topic, which is really round actively caring and the importance of actively caring in terms of having safety outcomes in how leaders show up. What’s your experience around this and what are some of the stories that maybe you’ve seen in terms of leaders that demonstrates that active care?

And why is it so important in your opinion?

And, you know, I think you’re absolutely right when you say that because it’s so 100 percent true. It is where you’re coming from. And that’s my point as well as a parent, you’re coming from a place of love as a leader. You’re coming from a place that’s truly, like you said, actively caring for the participants and your employees and the people that are there. And I have seen this in so many different places. And is it actually.

Makes me so happy when I see it. And the funny thing is, too, it makes the people around the leader happy. You can just feel that people are they feel safer, they feel cared for. And the leader that does that and I have some really specific people that I’ve witnessed doing this, they actually don’t just go out on the floor and look for things that people are violating procedures. They look for things that people are doing correctly.

And they notice those things and they make sure they take the time to let them know, hey, I noticed that you were doing this. Thank you for wearing your safety lenses. You know, thank you for having your hearing protection on. But they also asked them what they’re doing. What is it that you’re working on today? Can you explain to me, you know, what you’re doing? Also, is there anything we can do to make this better or to make this safer?

How do you feel? And. Leaders that go out and ask their employees these questions and then stand there and listen, but not just listen, but then go do something if a change needs to happen. Those employees feel valued and they feel like, wow, they actually do care about me, this isn’t this isn’t about money and it’s not about numbers. My leader actually cares about what I’m doing and what my job is. And they maybe even ask about my children and then remember to ask if they said, yeah, Johnny has a football game tonight, that leader would remember the next day to say, hey, how is the game?

Because they truly are there in the moment and they truly are caring and they’re actively caring, like you said. And that makes so much difference to people. Even if you think about just work as just normal everyday relationships, people can tell when you’re not sincere. People can tell when you’re, you know, their B.S. meter goes all over the place. So being sincere and heartfelt and genuine and earnest in your job as a leader. I think it’s one of the most important things you can do to help people feel like, OK, this is a place I want to be on board with this program and I’m going to do everything I need to do to make this right and to be safe not only for myself and for my family, but for this company.

I couldn’t agree more. I think one of the themes that I remember going to a mine site and there were two leaders down the same pit, and one of them came from a position where every day he would go and scold people. What did you do? What you did not do? The other person knew everything about each individual care, and you were asking them what was top of mind for each team member. And I think the element is actively caring as a standalone won’t solve safety issues, but without it, it becomes very, very challenging to get to the right outcome.

So, this other leader, he would, as he said, talk positively reinforce the right behaviors, but knew the individuals made it very personal from the importance of safety and the link back to the families of the individuals and the choices that each person was making. So, I think this is an incredibly powerful and important message for four leaders and really appreciate you traveling across the country to share the story, to get people really thinking about how are they showing up as leaders, how are they sparking people to really make safety personal?

Yes. Thank you. And I appreciate this. And you are able to connect with people throughout the country with your messages. And I completely agree with you. And I’m so happy that you do this podcast because I think leaders, they have a hard job, but most of the safety managers and any of the safety of theirs I’ve met their heart is in the right place and they’re working their darndest, like they take this home with them at night every night, and they worry about their workers just like they were their own family.

And they care about them and they want to do the right thing. And I think anything that I can do, anything you can do, anything we can do together as a community to support that, to support each other and just say, keep going, keep doing your best. And, you know, we know it’s a tough job and we just are I’m very grateful for the people that are willing to take on those positions and work hard to keep people safe every day.

Yeah, I think very well said. And I think the other element is a lot of people have their heart in the right place but don’t necessarily connect and explain it in a way that that shows that I’ve worked with some executives that deeply, truly care team members. But when people hear their story, they they’re hearing about darted raids, target numbers, and it becomes devoid of the connection to why they’re actually doing what they’re doing, which is to help people come back home to their loved one’s day in and day out.

So sometimes it’s even just changing the form of communication and how I’m sharing something.

Absolutely. And I’m glad you said that, because that is one of the things that I talk to about other people with other people. And what I try to tell them is. Just have a conversation, maybe take a step back and simplify it a little bit, it put yourself in the position of your employer. How would you best take this information if you’re standing up there and just handing out policies, procedures and this what you have to do and you better do it this way.

And always these are the numbers. After about five minutes, they closed down. So, it is about that even training your leaders and your managers on. OK, we have this very dry information that we have to teach. Nobody wants to be here, including us. So how do we teach this in a way that’s actually going to get through to somebody and actually connect with them? And you’re right from the very beginning, you really have to make connections and you really have to make it personal and you have to do your due diligence and just learning how people learn to read.

So, again, thank you for joining me today on the podcast and for sharing such an important message.

The good fight. Thanks so much, Eric. I appreciate it.

Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-Suite radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Fuel your future. Come back in two weeks for the next episode or listen to our sister show with the Ops guru, Eric Michrowski.

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Learn about Kina and Her Story

Kina’s fight for survival began when she found herself caught in a moving conveyor belt. The fact that Kina is alive today to tell her story is a living testament to her strong determination and fantastic attitude.

Although she had lost her arm due to her accident, she didn’t lose her incredible zest for life. Kina leads a very productive and fulfilling life, with an attitude that keeps her thriving in her world without limits.

Kina’s Powerful Message about Safety

Kina’s message is about encouraging workplace safety responsibility. The day that changed her forever started like any other day. She didn’t plan or expect an accident. Now, Kina uses her workplace injury to motivate and teach.

Kina has a significant and unique opportunity to educate employees and workers on the importance of building a safety consciousness. She is dedicated to reducing occupational injuries by raising awareness about workplace hazards.

But just knowing about safety isn’t enough. Kina can help your company by speaking about workplace safety from her perspective, which creates an impactful and inspiring message.

Kina’s Safety Presentations:

  • Grab attention and make a lasting impression on staff

  • Change lives and help reduce occupational injuries

  • Inspire and motivate audiences to make safe choices

  • Show audiences how to turn adversity into success

The Program: It’s Your Safety, Don’t Give It Away

Experience personalize safety through Kina’s story about the tragic loss of her left arm. Kina will speak about how a lack of knowledge and lack of training contributed to the day that forever changed her life.

She advocates that you are your last line of defense. Kina encourages active participation in safety. She also covers the effects injuries have on friends, family, and co-workers.

With witty wisdom, Kina will impart a message you can reflect on and share – a message that shows you how to be present, aware, and safe.

To contact Kina Hart:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (509) 999 -1323