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Implementing Effective Stretching Programs to Reduce Injuries with Patte Ackermann

Implementing effective stretching programs to reduce injuries



Patte Ackerman joins us on the podcast this week to discuss the many benefits of implementing effective stretching programs in the workplace. Tune in as she shares the life-changing effects just seven minutes of stretching can produce and the need for safety leaders to embrace and champion stretching at work. After all, studies have shown that stretching improves coordination and balance, increases blood flow, and makes us happier!


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 is a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized ops and safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safe legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to the Safety Guru. Today I am very excited to have Patte Ackermann with me. Patte is an industrial physical therapist who has done incredible work across multiple organizations to help reduce injuries, predominantly by implementing Ergonomic programs. We will get into a lot of the details very soon. Based out of St. Louis, Missouri, Patte, welcome to the show. 

Thank you for having me. I am happy to be here. 

Excellent. So, Patte, why do not we kick off by sharing a little bit about what got you into industrial stretching programs and maybe some of your backgrounds? 

I am a physical therapist and got into physical therapy after getting a degree in physical therapy, physical education, and corporate fitness. So, I was exploring, trying to make workplaces healthier and happier, but I was not getting enough education that I needed. So, then I went to physical therapy school where I got my physical therapy and my psychology degrees. And I say that every day. I use my physical therapy, psychology, and injury prevention physical education degrees as I try to help companies. So, in my first job initially out of college, I worked in a traditional physical therapy setting to start off my career. And then I saw an ad it said, physical therapist, would you like to work with healthy workforces, keeping them healthier, helping them try to stay out of the physical therapy clinics? And that job was made for me, and I have been doing that for 31 years now. So as a physical therapist, as an industrial physical therapist, I spent part of my time treating injured workers and doing physical therapy. But I only do it at job sites, which allows me to use the tools of people’s industry in their rehabilitation. So, if somebody is a forklift operator, probably in rehabilitation, we’ll be climbing on and off of forklifts. 

If somebody uses a sledgehammer throughout their normal days, we are going to be using a sledgehammer in physical therapy. So, it made me really functional minded treating patients like this, which led me to what I do most of the time, which is injury prevention.

Right. One of the things I want to touch on is stretching programs. I have seen them being incredibly beneficial, predominantly in industries like in construction where it gets implemented, utilities on the construction side of the utility side. But let us talk about who really needs stretching programs and why. It is really important to start really thinking about that as part of your safety programs.

I am glad you asked. Stretch programs are probably what I do the most with injury prevention. And people ask me, who is the appropriate candidate for a stretching program? And I say anybody who has a physically demanding job, which is all of us. If somebody sits all day, that is hard on your body. So even somebody who sits all day in an office space can benefit from a stretching program. So, I do stretch programs with office workers, construction workers, people in manufacturing, and public utilities, along with any kinds of jobs that people have because everybody’s bodies are in harm’s way. And I think stretching can help them reduce the discomfort that they encounter on a regular basis.

Yeah, absolutely. There are some industries that need more you mentioned a lot of people have demanding jobs. Construction is where I have seen this the most embedded, but it’s not the only demanding job. There are demanding jobs in manufacturing and all sorts of different sectors. So, what would trigger an organization to say, let us look at this? 

Well, I get the phone calls when a company has an increase in musculoskeletal injuries, and it might be on any body part, or when people are expressing discomfort, they’re not having the injuries, but they’re saying, you know what, my body is getting tired throughout the workday.


And that is when I usually get a call like, hey, Patte, what can you do to help us remain more comfortable both on and off the job? Yes, construction is very well known now for doing stretch programs. And one of the reasons it is so well known is it’s a captured workplace. So, everybody starts at the same place on a construction C-suite, and so that is why it’s easier there. But in manufacturing, we can have people starting in the same place too. And I do like the group stretch programs, so those are some of the most physically demanding, the construction sites and manufacturing. 

How does stretching really help? And what are some of the things that you should be looking for in terms of a good stretching program for the work site? 

So that is a bunch of questions. So, stretching, how does it help? The main thing that I think stretching helps us do, and this is whether you’re Patte, celebrating her weekend or somebody who’s about to use a jackhammer, stretching lets your body know you’re going from a period of inactivity, driving into work, laying down in bed, to activity, the physical demands of your day without undue force. So let your body know, whoops, let us stop working on digestion. Let us stop working on revitalizing ourselves. We need that blood flow to be working with the muscles. And it lets your body know that you are about to start doing some activity. Stretching helps benefit by improving our coordination and balance. It feels good. It increases blood flow. It can warm us up. And as studies are showing now, this is one of the things that I’m using a lot right now. Stretching makes us happy because when you stretch, you release endorphins in your brain, and endorphins are those happy drugs in our brains. So, stretching can also make you happy. And believe me, I tell everybody that they need to stretch in order to be happier. It works for me. 

And one of the things that I have seen in certain organizations, some of them has really high engagement and high involvement of the workforce around stretching. And in other organizations, it is really a long haul. People do not really want to do it. It feels forced. What have you seen over the years that gives employees, first and foremost, want to do it to get excited about doing starters or starting stretches in the morning?

Well, some of the things that I found successful in getting better employee engagement is before I start a program, I ask the employees, hey, where do you feel discomfort throughout your workday? What body parts feel tired when you get home? What hurts throughout the day? What hurts? And I use the information that they share with me. Maybe they say, my feet hurt. And Eric. It is always surprising. The person, the supervisor who hires me, they are like, oh, everybody’s planning about shoulders. And I will show up there and people will say, it is my feet, it is my back. Like, it is never just one body part. And some people will say, my feet hurt throughout the day. And based on the information that I’m getting from the workers, I’ll ask them, oh, your feet hurt? Does this stretch feel good? And I will show them a stretch, and usually, it is a stretch, it feels pretty good. And I will show them the stretch and ask them to try it. And if they report that it helps with their discomfort, that will be one of the stretches that we use in that company-specific stretch program. So, when I come back out and show them the stretches, they know that the information that I have gathered has come from the work.

They have been telling me; that this is where we feel discomfort. And then they have helped me determine which stretches are going to be best for that workforce. So, getting employee engagement is very important. Listening to the workers is very important. Not just showing up with a canned program. I really like to do a specific stretch program for that company, that shift, that group, that job title. And that is one of the things. Longevity is a big mystery. The enthusiasm of whom they work with, whom they bring in, and the skill set of whom they bring in, is of course important. But really, if the supervisor does not believe in the program, I think it is going to be really hard to get the workers to believe in the program. The workers will know if the supervisor is finding the stretch program to be an inconvenience and what interests my boss fascinates me. We have heard that saying. And if the boss is looking at their watch the whole time that they are doing the stretching or saying, okay, it is time to stretch, let us get this over with, that is the message that the workers are going to hear. But if the supervisor goes out there and says, all right, everybody, it is time to do our search program, let us get our day going to a good beat, and that is the message that they’ll hear, and they’ll hear support for it. 

I think that’s a very important point because where I’ve seen this work really well is the leader is jumping in, is taking part in it, is showing this is important in some cases that leaders, leader also showing up, and maybe it’s even only once or twice in a week coming in, taking part in the stretch, maybe making it fun, bringing music. I think that is an element that I’ve seen over, and all be critically important because as you said, where the leader doesn’t show up, the leader feels like a drag. Where he is not willing to check in with the team member who is not taking part in the stretch, it is likely not going to survive very long. 

They know what is going on, the people who are participating in the program, they know if their supervisors getting upset with them, or if the supervisor is happy with the performance that they are giving, and they will respond in kind. And if it is a company that has frequently started and stopped programs, the participants are going to be concerned about longevity. And sometimes if it is a company that started and stopped programs, I have had the workers say, how do we know that they are not going to take this away from us again? And that is when it becomes my responsibility to say to the supervisors, they are worried about longevity, they want to perform this, they want to do the stretching, but they are worried you’re going to take it away from them. And I try to get some assurances from them and ways that we can get assurances if they bring the flex and stretch instructor back to update the program, to assess the program, to encourage the program. That is one way of ensuring a little bit of longevity. Because if they want to bring the person back, that means that they believe in it and they see if they are scheduling the person to come back in a month, they know that the program is still going to be going for a month. 

So, it’s just some of these little things that can help make sense.

One of the things that I am curious, I love your comment about making it very customized to that workplace, the type of work that people are doing, to the aches and pains that maybe people there are seeing when you talked about even customized to a shift. I think those are important pieces. So, it feels like our stretch. Any thoughts on programs that take it even further? Because some programs go all the way to Patte. This is your stretch, john, this is your stretch and each one is different because I have definitely seen some value in the whole group doing something similar. Any perspectives around which approach works best? And what is the level of customization you want? 

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Well, I could make a commercial for each one of those and obviously, the one-on-one training is going to be an amazing program and you are probably going to get really good support from the participants in it. It is like, oh, they noticed that my shoulders stiffer on the right, so they gave me a specific shoulder stretch to be doing and that is awesome. It is a little bit more challenging to manage. And so, if management is going to get frustrated with trying to manage the specific program, that is when it could be better to do a big group program. But just making sure. Sometimes I will throw in with the front of a thigh stretch. Some of people can stand on one leg and hold the ankle all the way up to the foot. I mean, hold the ankle all the way up to the buttock as they stand up. And others cannot do that, but they might just do a little bit of a standing butt kick because it depends on people’s individual range of motion and balance. So, we can offer alternatives and make it a little bit specific. So yes, individualized exercise programs are fantastic but more challenging to manage. 

Makes sense. You talked about something as well that kind of caught my curiosity in terms of office workers because it definitely is a lot of strain sitting in a chair an entire day. But I’ve never seen an office environment do formalize stretching programs. What would you do to get people bought into this in an office context? 

So usually, it is pretty easy. Well, if I can get a ringleader, if I could get someone, what I need is a partner. And that partner must be able to say, hey everybody, it’s 820, let’s do our stretch time. And that is it. Every office worker complains about having to sit for a long time, and how exhausting it is. I never get up and move about. And if we custom makes a stretch program for the office workers, that will allow them to stretch their entire body in a few minutes in their work clothes with the group, it will probably improve morale, it will probably improve their range of motion, it will probably decrease their discomfort and maybe even prolong their life because prolonged sitting is hard on us. And then usually with a desk size program, an office worker stretch program whatever you want to call it. We will be upper extremity specific. We will show them some stretches for their hands, wrist, and forearms and stretches that they can do while they are still sitting because sometimes, they cannot get up and move about. And I will show them some stretches that they can control and do on their own. 

So, it will be a little bit of each, it will be a little bit of a stretch program that they will stand up and do as a group, which is ideal and it’s more fun and they’ll get to giggle together a little bit and some individualized one for them to be doing throughout the day. 

Love it. I think it’s another piece where if you’ve got a stretching program for frontline workers in a field environment, in a field environment, or in a manufacturing environment, you can have a program there, but maybe you can extend that same reach to start bringing safety to people working in an office and getting them to reflect on how they sit every day. Love that part. 

And how their jobs are physically demanding as well. 

Absolutely. So how do you know how effective a program like this is? What are some of the anecdotes, the stories that you have seen that make it successful? 

So, I love your question because I get to talk a little bit about some of the successes I have had. The best way to measure the success of a program is when the people are performing the stretches. First off, if they are doing it every day, if I get a phone call saying, hey, we are getting sick of the stretches you are showing us, that means that they are doing them enough for getting with the stretches. And that is the best phone call I can get. If people are saying I feel better, I feel better for doing these stretches, I love the stretch program. Hey, I have been doing those stretches every day and it felt so good that after work I went for a walk. Well, that is a way that I know that I am really impacting their overall health and wellbeing. There are ways that management can ensure and assess program effectiveness. Some companies go as far as to do the measurement, testing, testing people’s hamstring length, and shoulder range of motion at the beginning of the program and maybe six months later and see if they’ve had an actual increase in range of motion of these muscle groups. So that is a way of measuring effectiveness. 

Some groups do auditing, and you can objectively measure what percentage of people are doing the stretches, what percentage of the people are doing them correctly, how much coaching is the leader giving, how effective and how effectively are they doing the stretches, so we can audit the group and the leader. But my biggest successes are the individual conversations I have had. I have a few stories from groups that I have stretched with individuals who have come talk to me and said how a stretch program has impacted them and if I can brag one guy one of my lifetime best moments was when a guy told me that he was working at a construction site. And he said that he was walking on the big rocks of the construction site. And they had been stretching for probably six months at this place. And he said that he was walking on the big rocks on the construction site, rolled his ankle, and had that lightning bolt of pain in his ankle. And he said, Patte, I knew that I tore something, and it hurts so bad. And I walked around, and I was limping on it for about five minutes. 

And I was thinking to myself, oh, no, what if I cannot do the sporting event that I was going to do that weekend? What if I am really injured and I have to miss work? And he said, after five minutes, he no longer had any pain. And he said, Patte, I know it is because the stretches that you have shown us to help strengthen and stretch my ankle and my lower leg, that is something that previously I would have torn, something that I was able to just walk off. And is that a career high for me? Yes, it really was, because something that I taught this guy made him not get hurt and attributed it to the stretch program that his employer provided. So, yes, it was a very proud mama moment. Another one that will stick with me forever. I had a stretch program where they were getting pretty advanced, and I incorporated squats just basically going towards a sitting position and up. And I always teach people different ways of doing it because not everybody can do a squat. And people kind of freak out with squats if they haven’t done it before. What if I cannot do it safely? 

How am I going to do it? Oh, I know this is going to hurt. And this guy told me that he was worried about doing squats because he had knee pain, and he was worried that if he did squats, it would increase his knee pain. And he said, Patte, after a month of doing squats, not only did it not increase my knee pain, but I also no longer have knee pain. He knew it was from those squat exercises. Yes, because the squat exercises were allowing him to strengthen his hip muscles. So now, not only is he not in harm’s way, but he is also strengthening his muscles so that he can be safer. So, it’s those little things that are career highs for me, and it makes for a wonderful brag. I have to admit, it’s in my mental portfolio. 

I love it. I think it is also an interesting piece because you talked about the endorphins that make people happier. It strikes me, that even if you can bring it into an office environment, there are probably very few industries environments that shouldn’t consider something like this. Even if it’s a small stretching program, it just also creates a team-building activity that gets energy flowing and gets people more alert for the work ahead. It sounds like a very simple fix that obviously improves safety performance, but also has lots of other positive benefits. 

I think people would be more alert. I think the people who kind of like slowly to walk into work if they do a seven-minute stretch program, they’ll wake up during that stretch program. And I’d rather them wake up during a stretch program rather than wake up after they’re already swinging a hammer or driving a piece of mobile equipment. So, yeah, I think that will increase their safety as well. 


So recently I had a safety person talk to me and he said that he thinks that his organization would benefit from a stretch program, but he is really having trouble selling it to upper management their injuries are high and there are numerous reasons. And I said something, and I have been doing this for a long time, and I said something to the sky, and I said, your workers have been giving their bodies to your company and they will for their entire career. All you are asking is that your company gives them seven minutes a day. It seems like a pretty fair trade-off, and he was kind of blown away by that too. But it is like we are asking so much of our workers, hopefully, they’re going to stay with us throughout their career, retire from us, and why don’t we make a tiny little investment from them so that they can feel better upon retirement. I see stretch programs as a bit of a 401K for our bodies, and if we can provide them with that time, provide them with education, why wouldn’t we? 

I think that is a great pitch because it’s very simple just asking for seven minutes. And I could see the value of the A call center based on what you shared, right, where you have got people that are captive for hours in an environment answering phones, but you could just get the energy flowing, just start the day with some stretches and it’s going. 

To make them a little bit happier. I had a plant manager announce once. He said, of course, we are going to let them stretch for seven minutes a day. They are going to gather on their own in the morning already. If we round them up for seven minutes, we can assess them, we can manage them, they are going to still have their conversations, but we are going to stretch. We can talk to them a little bit about the safety that is going to be happening. And as he knows, the front-line supervisors can also assess the workforce in the morning and make sure that they are walking in looking healthy, looking safe, and unimpaired in any way. And it is just one of the many benefits of stretching. 

Definitely. I really appreciate you coming in and sharing some of your thoughts or ideas about it. I definitely have seen the value of power in organizations, particularly when leaders embrace it, leaders sponsor it, even at very senior levels, recognizing the importance. And it does not sound like it’s a very complicated thing necessarily to go roll out in different industries. So, if somebody wants to get in touch with you, Patte, what’s the best way for them to connect with you? 

My email is Ackermann, which is A-C-K-E-R-M-A-N-N as in Patte at SSM 

Perfect. Well, thank you very much for sharing your ideas on stretching programs, and definitely encourage people to think about how to incorporate them if you don’t have a good program already in place in your organization.

Well, thank you for having me. This was fun.

Thank you for listening to the Safety Guru on C-suite Radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the path. Grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo consulting.

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Patte Ackermann is an Industrial Physical Therapist with SSM Health Physical Therapy in St. Louis, MO.  For over 25 years she has dedicated herself professionally to working with employers to reduce workers’ compensation claims and their associated costs.  Her expertise includes job site physical therapy and work hardening utilizing the tools of the trade to ensure that therapy is as functional as is possible.  She also specializes in on-site injury prevention classes, job-site flex and stretch programs, job analyses, ergonomic assessment and recommendations, individualized exercise programs, body mechanics coaching, job descriptions and any other method of helping employees and employers with the common goal of improving job site safety and overall health and wellness.

She received her BS in Physical therapy along with her BA in Psychology from Maryville University and her BS in Corporate Fitness from University of Tampa.  She is a Certified Safety Consultant through the State of Missouri.

For more information: [email protected].




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Strategies to Prevent Heat Stress with Cam Mackey and Dan Glucksman

Strategies to prevent heat stress



In this episode, we have a very important conversation with Cam Mackey and Dan Glucksman about the reality and risk of heat stress. Unfortunately, the danger of extreme heat increases each year due to continuing effects of climate change. According to OSHA, workers suffer over 3,500 injuries and illnesses related to heat each year. Tune in to learn how organizations can implement effective strategies to prevent heat stress or illness from happening to their team members.



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 is a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized ops and safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safe legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to the safety guru. Today I am very excited to have with me Cam Mackey and Dan Glucksman, both from the international safety equipment association. Cam is the President and CEO. Dan is the Senior Director of Policy. The International Safety Equipment Association is the voice for safety equipment. And today we are coming to talk about a very important topic which is heat stress. So obviously we are getting into planning phases into the winter, but summer is running right around the corner, and we’ve had quite a hot summer. So, you can start out with Cam or Dan, sharing a little bit about what’s the size of the problem around heat stress so we can get a bit of a sense for some listeners in terms of actions that needed. 

Yeah. Thanks, Eric. Dan and I appreciate the opportunity to be on the podcast. We’re in what, mid-September? So, we can share a couple of stats on the summer that we are wrapping up. It is hot, right? So, this was the third hottest summer ever for the continental US. And even though we are in mid-September right now, guess what? The west coast is just coming off an insane heat wave. Sacramento hit 116 deg the other day, and over 1000 different heat records were broken. So just from purely what we are feeling as citizens, as workers, it is crazy hot out there. So those are some weather stats, Eric. So, what, there is a human cost of this heat, right? So, if you think about what the impact on our workers is, whether they are agricultural workers, construction workers, folks that need to be outside to keep us safe, to feed us, et cetera. Eleven workers are injured or died every single day when heat stress in the US. Now to put that in context, a single death or injury is unacceptable. But both those stats here, they are above the ten and 30-year highs. So, it’s getting hotter, and our workers are paying the price. 

There is also an economic cost to this. Some studies have shown that the US. Could lose about $100 billion a year in productivity due to heat stress. And as well as I do look at a lot of the climate forecasts out there, as the world’s getting hotter, that number is going to go only higher. So, there is a human cost, there’s an economic cost and here at ISEA, we take it really seriously. 

Yeah, I think this is a very important point to talk about. You also touched on Pacific Northwest. The other one that was in the news earlier this year was UK and Europe in general. We are talking about also regions that aren’t particularly used to heat stress and heat waves, unlike maybe southern teams on the Gulf or Arizona. So, tell me a little bit about what are some of the themes because you’ve got regions and people that are probably also not familiar with what should I do in those cases. 

Yes, it’s a great point. As you mentioned, in the UK, you have these beautiful buildings, in some cases hundreds of years old. They were not built for this, right? They were built to retain heat, not have fresh air. So, there is an infrastructure issue, power grids aren’t built for it. But just as people, there is a learning curve, right, folks, where we are not used to working in these conditions. We are used to summers in the mid seventy s and so we will probably talk throughout our conversation today. There is a really big education curve to get over, right? So, it is letting workers, as people know, watch the signs of heat stress for themselves and for colleagues. And also, we’re really excited that OSHA that they’ve introduced a national emphasis program earlier this year specifically on heat stress. So, part of that is raising awareness of the severity of this issue for employers and for employees. So, we are really excited to see that that’s getting off the ground in the last few months.

Great. Let us talk a little bit about some of the symptoms to look out for. So, if I am thinking for myself, what should I be looking out for? If I am looking out for my peers, what are some of the things that I should keep an eye out for?

Yeah, there are a couple of things. Some workplaces actually have a buddy system where individuals are looking out for each other. Some of the things to be aware of are how often are you drinking or staying in a buddy system. How often is your partner drinking water? There is sort of heat cramps. So, if you or your partner are having spasms and say your arms or legs, it’s a sign of dehydration. Parenthetically, you see this on the playing field of sports over the summer, right? Players go down and they’re grabbing their skin or something like that and sometimes that’s a sign of heat cramp from dehydration. There’s heat exhaustion. It’s kind of funny, but one of the phases of heat stress goes from clammy skin to dry hot skin. So being aware of these phases of how your body is reacting to heat, the heat exhaustion, the skin is kind of clammy, but heat stroke, the skin is hot and dry. So, there are all kinds of things to be aware of. But really the preventions should really be top of mind such as drinking a lot of water, listening to your body and taking rests as needed and finding shade. 

I know cam. One thing he says around the office is that heat stress is the one injury that’s 100% preventable. There’s really no reason anyone ought to be being injured by heat stress.

Yeah, Dan makes a great point, Eric, for some workers, right? They don’t have the luxury of working from home like others of us do. And so, this really is a preventative condition, even in some tough work environments. And so, we’re excited to partner with our member companies who make this great PPE to keep people safe, and to raise awareness that workers and employers do not have to accept that heat stress is just part of the job because it’s not sure. 

So, let’s dive into some of the things an employer can do. I’m assuming one of them is training around signs, and symptoms, peer checks around it and making sure you’ve got good hydration. What are some of the other things that organizations can do to drive a difference? 

Yes, I think the first thing is really educating yourself, and that’s at the employer level as well as the individual employee level. So, I think the first step in that education process is you need to find a trusted partner in safety, whether that’s your EHS professional, whether that someone if you’re an end user, if you’re a manufacturer, someone a distributor who really can help you assess your heat stress. But what you want to do is conduct a thorough job hazard analysis. And what that will do is help identify some of the risk areas, some of the potential problem areas on your work sites, and your locations for heat stress. So that’s something where we don’t recommend just googling heat stress and doing it yourself. So really find that trusted partner and safety to do that, and you’re having that kind of expertise, they can really provide them the best preventative measures. Right. The trick here is not, oh wow, I’m experiencing heat stress. How can we really triage this? The best remedy is to get ahead of the game.


So, you want to identify preventative measures. And so, some of the ones that we recommend are as powerful as our continuous use of PPE or personal protective equipment and cooling solutions. And so, this is anything from cooling towels and cooling garments, which if you haven’t used before, yes, the technology has been around for decades, but it’s pretty much as close to a textile miracle as I’ve ever seen. When you put this stuff in water for a minute or so and it just makes you feel cool and calm, it’s pretty fantastic. There are also cooling vests and then some pretty space-age technology called phase change, which again has been around for years. But companies are doing pretty incredible things to keep workers even in tough environments, safe. So, PPE is part of regular proactive, hydration is part of it. But yeah, the most important thing, Eric, is to bring in someone who knows what they’re looking for and develop a proactive heat stress prevention plan.

I would say that PPE for heat stress is a really high-tech, low-cost item to keep workers safe. Cam is right that these are harnessing the latest in fabric and fiber technologies. For example, some of them have an interwoven pattern of fibers that will draw water away even though they’re really thin. One layer draws water away from the body, and the other layer pushes it to the outer part of the fabric where it evaporates. And as Cam noted, there’s a range of options. For example, there are some hard hat shades that are designed to be highly visible for road construction workers, but also keep the sun off of your neck. There’s one company now that has a metal insert on the top of a hard hat to reflect the radiant heat from the sun. So, there are a lot of innovations out there to keep workers safe in the heat.

It’s really interesting. So, a combination of training so you have some awareness, making sure you’ve got the right hydration, and then really relooking at what kind of PPE you have, and making sure it’s readily available for anybody, particularly when the heat starts dialing up. Are there things that should be done just before a heatwave? You mentioned California had a very high heat wave just a couple of weeks before we’re recording this episode. What are some of the proactive steps when you know the heat is coming and it’s going to be increased that an organization could do to make sure there are no injuries?

Yeah, I think you’re right, Eric. Let’s be honest, the fact that we can predict the weather, I think it’s an amazing asset. We and citizens don’t appreciate it enough, but we can often look several days out and see when heat waves are coming. So again, this stuff is 100% preventable. So, some of the tactics that we recommend organizations employed before a significant heat event is number one, you got to track the weather. There’s no excuse. Ocean recommends the use, for example, the wet glow bulb temperature monitor, and that’s something you can use. Obviously, there are a lot of other ways to find out the current and predicted conditions. Second thing, make sure you have the correct PPE on hand, ready to go. You might even need more than you expect, but that’s something that needs to be done in advance. You also want to think about changes to how work is done. So, for example, modify the work-to-rest ratio. We’re humans, we can’t work just as hard in 100-degree temperatures as in 70 deg. So really being proactive about that and also making sure that you have a mechanism, whether it’s like a buddy system or wellness assessments, but you’re more continuously checking in with workers and allowing and encouraging them to check in on one another, all that’s critical. 

Then you also have to have, frankly, a disaster emergency preparedness plan. So, this could be obviously, first aid teams having even a makeshift immersion tub available. So, all the prevention plus the tools and resources and equipment if an emergency. 

Does occur, I think the buddy system you talked about I think is important. Somebody shared with me recently an incident where somebody was starting to feel signs of heat stress, but they were trying to work through it, and it was somebody else who caught it because we’ve got a desire sometimes to just fight through things and we may downplay what we’re experiencing. That strikes me as something that’s quite important, particularly if you’ve got small crews that are working more independently, making sure there’s always a buddy system in those heat periods.

Yeah, it’s great .1 of our members makes basically electrolyte beverages and products specifically for industrial workers. And I forget the exact number he shares with me, but it’s some shockingly high number of folks on the job site who are dehydrated, and they don’t even know about it. So, I think just to your point, Eric, we’re not maybe often the best judges of how we’re doing. So having that buddy system where this is not informal, this isn’t where a couple of workers decide to do this, but really where the employer is creating a culture where this is encouraged and mandated, but we’re looking out for one another, that’s key because we are not great judges of our own condition. 

This episode of the Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, reenergize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership, training, and talent solutions, Propulo has you covered. Visit us at

Yeah, one thing you talked about as well is really making sure people are feeling empowered to stop work, to pause if there’s a need. The other thing is, from a hydration standpoint, everybody talks about drinking water or making sure you stay hydrated. But correct me if I’m wrong, it’s also something you’ve got to start many hours before you start work. It’s not enough to just start drinking water once you arrive at the job site and it’s getting hot, your body has to be hydrated hours before and stay hydrated. 

Exactly. And just like when you get overheated, it’s not as simple as just throwing on a cooling towel. It’ll help. But you’re right, a lot of these measures need to be done correctly. That’s just the physiology of our bodies. 

So definitely sounds like something organizations need to think about more particularly. As global warming is increasing temperatures around the world, there are more and more of these events in regions that aren’t used to it, but it’s also getting even warmer in regions that have been used to it in the past. So very many key themes I captured from our conversation are making sure people are well trained to recognize the signs in themselves and in their peers that people feel empowered to stop work if they feel something’s not right, but then also making sure you’ve got the right PP in place and really looking at overall what’s the PP you need. You talked about a lot of different items from clothing to reflect the heat, to cooling mechanisms, to staying hydrated with electrolytes. So, it sounds like a lot of different pieces of PPE should be considered for the summer months.

Yeah, it’s a great point. And the thing is just here in New Zealand, Eric, that’s a lot, right? Let’s be honest, that’s a lot for an employee to think about, for an employer to think about. This is again, why we recommend it so important. You need someone to help navigate through this, right? Someone who’s familiar with the different types of PPE products out there. For most of us, it’s not as simple as going online and thinking that you can educate yourself in a few minutes. So really find that trusted partner who can help you navigate this to build a holistic heat stress prevention program. 

Sounds great. And where can they get such information? Would that be information that you can provide as part of the International Safety Equipment Association? Or is this somewhere else that they should go get some additional insights from? 

Yeah, there are a few places. Number one, OSHA does a fantastic job with resources around heat stress. So, they have visual management posters, etc. You can have your work site and a lot of good educational materials. They have training guides; they even have an onsite consultation program if you were missing. I didn’t plug ISEA our website, Heats trust. We’ve got a lot of good resources there and we actually have a training program called USSP or Qualified. 

Safety Sales.

Professional Program where this is one of the areas they cover. But also, again, the people that you rely on in your company internally, whether it’s EHS professionals or the channel partners you’re buying cooling products from, they’re going to know about this. They’re going to be able to guide you towards equipment and PPE solutions. Number one will keep you safe from injury, and number two, when appropriate, will help prevent heat stress. Great. 

And it sounds like a good time to start thinking about it. I know we’re getting to the winter months, so it’s easy to start forgetting about it. But to think about all these items, you can’t start doing it the day there’s a heat wave announcement coming in for the next day. That’s going to be too late, so it’s good to start thinking ahead. So, we’ve talked about lots of different topics around proactive measures. You’ve mentioned OSHA. Tell me about some of the changes that are coming from a legislative context. Dan is sure.

The House Education and Labor Committee just recently held a hearing in a committee vote on a bill sponsored by Congresswoman Judy Chu of California. When she was a state legislator, created the California Heat Stress Rule, and she brought that same kind of passion and legislation to Congress in DC. The Education Labor Committee took up her bill, recrafted it a little bit, and has told OSHA to create essentially a final rule within a twelve-month period on heat stress. So now that measure will go to the full House of Representatives and hopefully then also to the Senate and then to President Biden’s desk. Congress will need to act relatively fast, but so there’s some movement in Congress. Also, OSHA, as Cam mentioned, the National Emphasis Program, that’s a three-year program calling on a wide range of employers to focus on heat stress. That National Emphasis Program also focuses OSHA’s enforcement staff on heat stress and tells them that anytime they’re doing an inspection, also be mindful of how the employer is handling heat stress, making sure that there’s a heat stress plan and to some degree that workers are involved in implementing the heat stress plan. 

So, there’s a lot going on legislatively and regulatory on heat stress prevention. 

Perfect. So just another reason to focus on this and make sure you’ve got your game planned for the upcoming summer season, right? Kim Dan, thank you very much for coming on the show, sharing some very important information on a hazard that’s becoming more and more prevalent, and helping listeners think about strategies and approaches to make a difference around heat stress. Thank you. 

Thank you. 

Thanks for inviting us, Eric. It’s our pleasure. 

Thank you for listening to the Safety Guru on C-suite Radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the path. Grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo consulting.  

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The voice of credibility for the safety equipment industry, ISEA is the association for safety equipment and technologies – equipment and systems that enable people to work in hazardous environments. For more than 85 years, ISEA has set the standard for personal protective technologies, supporting the interests of its member companies who are united in the goal of protecting the health and safety of people worldwide.

Cam Mackey

Cam Mackey is President and CEO of the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). Mr. Mackey has led or collaborated on benchmark studies in areas like product management, competitive strategy, innovation, digital marketing, pricing, and channel strategy.

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Daniel Glucksman is Senior Director for Policy at the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) where he leads the organization’s legislative and regulatory programs. Mr. Glucksman also contributes to ISEA’s standards development and member engagement programs.




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Don’t Be Caught Off Guard: Active Shooter Incidents with Anthony Corwin

Don't be caught off guard active shooter incidents



According to the FBI, the number of active shooter incidents identified in 2021 represents a 52.5% increase from 2020 and a 96.8% increase from 2017 in the United States. Anthony Corwin, the Managing Director at Active Violence Emergency Response Training, walks us through how to appropriately respond in an active shooter incident in this episode. Tune in to learn how you can remain situationally aware of your surroundings and how psychological safety in the workplace can save lives.


Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and wellbeing 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 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 Anthony Corwin, who is a managing director at HSI. AVERT is one of the leading training organizations in active shooters, which is a very important topic to talk about. We often talk about injuries in the workplace, but as Anthony will share, it’s a leading cause of death in America in the workplace. So, Anthony, welcome to the show. 

Hey, thanks, Eric. I appreciate you having me here. 

Talk about this topic today, an important topic. So, tell me a little bit about the situation around active shooters and why workplaces really need to think about investing in training around it.

Yeah. So, it’s an unfortunate, I think, reality that we’re all being faced with that active shooter and active violent events are increasing kind of year over year. These incidents are not confined to a specific geography or even a demographic anymore. They’re happening in places that we frequent on a weekly or even daily basis, whether it’s our workplace, if it’s place of worship, schools, shopping centers, et cetera. These are now kind of happening where we frequent. And it’s an unfortunate reality that they’re happening more and more that we need to be prepared on what to do if we were involved in one of those type of situations. 

Yeah. And it seems to me, at least from what I’m seeing in the news, is that the frequency of incidents is on the rise. It doesn’t seem to be diminishing by any means. 

Yeah. And I’m sure there are lots of different causes based on each situation. Specifically going through a pandemic. Things have, I think, been followed up a little bit. And we’re seeing especially in the workplace. OSHA estimates that more than 2 million people are affected in workplace violence. Like you mentioned earlier, it’s one of the leading causes of fatalities on the workforce that are being reported on a yearly basis. And then there are incidents where, again, whether it’s at a workplace or it’s somebody who is connected to that workplace or one of the employees, again, they’re happening more frequently. And it’s now a higher call to action to make sure that people know what to do, similar to what we’ve kind of grown up with by getting trained for like CPR or fire drills or earthquakes. Active shooter training is becoming one of those now staples that people need to learn what to do in that situation. Because seconds matter when something happens on how you’re going to respond and react and hopefully save your life and maybe save others at the same time. 

And it seems to be industry agnostic. It’s not just if I’m in retail, I need to think about this. Like you mentioned, it could be somebody in the workplace. It’s almost any workplace now needs to start reflecting on how I prepare for this.

Yeah. They don’t really have stats on the types of industries, but it does go across all retail. We’ve seen at Walmart; we’ve seen it at large chains. We’ve seen that manufacturing facilities, we’ve seen it again, places of worship, all different denominations. We see it at schools. Those tend to really kind of take the headlines for the news, et cetera. But it’s happening again in our backyards. And it’s on a frequency that is increasing in an unfortunate circumstance.

Absolutely. Let’s talk about some of the tactics that you advocate around driving improvements or creating more focus on it. One of the things we talked about is situational awareness. And situational awareness applies to everything in the work environment. But tell me a little bit about how that applies to active shooter type situations. 

Yeah. So, within the verb program, situation awareness is designed for people to be more aware of their surroundings. We use the phrase which has been used for a long time for a lot of stuff, which is see something, say something. I think nowadays we all get caught up in a world where technology is at our fingertips and we’re so focused on getting access to all the things that are happening to us at once. We don’t have as good of a situation. Whereas for us, when we’re walking either into our office, if we’re walking into a shopping center, we’re in the parking lot, et cetera, and we try and get people to be a little bit more aware of their surroundings, something that looks funny or feels funny, usually our gut reaction is pretty right on. So, we want people to have a little more awareness when you walk into a facility to understand kind of how that facility is set up in terms of if it’s shopping, if it’s a grocery center, are there multiple exits? So, if something were to happen, you kind of have an understanding of what you would do or how you could go about either escaping or evading a situation. 

So, if we’re not familiar with where we are, we want to get familiar. So, we do have that kind of background for how to respond again. And those immediate seconds where you don’t really have time to think, sometimes you just got to react. 

Right. So really scanning the environment, looking for anything that looks different, maybe somebody who’s not seeming comfortable, I’m assuming, in their skin at that moment or something seems a little bit off. Also, being aware of emergency exits, maybe even if you’re in a restaurant, positioning yourself so you have a line of C-suite views of what’s happening. Is this really what we’re talking about?

Yeah. There’s lots of warning signs, too, that we see in a lot of the situations when they do some of the research and the investigations that there were signs of individuals later on that, again, were either overlooked or maybe just were not reported because they didn’t really think that it would escalate to that flat level. So again, we want to make sure that we’re taking the precautions if we do see something to alert someone in a leadership position, whether it’s HR, et cetera, on things that we may be aware of, because that may be added to other things that are going on that people have noticed as well that could hopefully help have a conversation to prevent something from happening if that were the case. 

So, in a workplace setting, it’s really getting to know your teammates, your colleagues. Seeing something seems a little bit off some is a bit different. I know we’ve had several guests on the podcast talking about for a leader to actively care for their team members. Right. To get to know them better, understand what’s working for them, who they say, save for things of that nature. But that’s also where you can see some signs that, hey, somebody’s a little bit different today or something seems to be bothering them. Exactly.

Yeah. And we want to make sure people have that empowerment, to be able to take that to a leadership level two, again, just to make sure we’re checking on people, we’re making sure that everything is okay because we all have a lot of stresses in our life and it’s always good to kind of check in and make sure that we’re all at least responsive to that, to make sure that we are taking everyone’s mental and physical health into the highest importance.

I think it’s really important. The first one is really being aware of the situation, what I’m walking into, if it’s a workplace in terms of people around me. So, if I do encounter a scenario where somebody is there is an active shooter, what are some of the things that I should be looking for or thinking about doing? Yeah.

So, our program is based off the Department of Homeland Security fundamentals of run, hide, fight. We use escape, evade and attack. But we always want people to first and foremost, try and get away from danger. So, running or escaping. And sometimes you don’t know where to run to. If you’re not familiar with the situation, if you don’t have a designated area of where you should be evacuating to, or if you think that the assailant may be in that area, you also don’t want to run towards the danger. But that’s always first and foremost, if you can get away, you can get away safely, then that is always the best option to take first and foremost. 

But that strikes me if I’m in that situation that there’s so much happening, it’s chaotic. You may not even know where the person’s in where they’re located. Right. What do I do if I’m not sure? I know there’s an active shooter, but I don’t know which direction to go. 

Yeah. So, the next thing to your point, if you don’t know where that gunfire is coming from because a lot of times as loud as it is in the Echo effect, you’re not going to know if it’s North, South, east, or west. And if you don’t know and can’t see that there is a safe area to run to, the next thing is going to be how do you evade or how do you hide? And then understanding the difference between cover and concealment. So, cover is going to stop bullets if you’re behind like a concrete wall or steel teams or something, whereas concealment is just going to be able to hide you so that the individual will be able to see you. So, like drywall or something. It’s not going to stop a bullet, but hopefully it’s going to keep you out of sight for that individual, so they don’t see that you are there. So, understanding the nuances. When you are in a situation where you can’t run, what’s your next best option? How do you hide and hopefully prevent yourself from being seen by that assailant as they are going through the facility? 

I think also gets into if you’re aware of the surroundings, you know what’s happening, you know, okay, this is a concrete wall or this is something that will shield me. Or maybe you’ve seen a spot where you could go hide, which saves you that pressure seconds, assuming I can’t evade and I’m not sure about if there’s a clear path for me to escape. So, what do I do next? Because when you talk about fight and attack, it strikes me as pretty risky to go head on. 

Yeah. And this was developed. This is part of the training with our experts who bring a lot of over 30 years of law enforcement and private security experience on how to disarm or fight an assailant, if that truly is your last resort, to your point, if you can’t escape and you can’t evade and now you are in a situation where I don’t have a run, I can’t hide, and they are going to be coming to where I am. What is my last resort? And we use some different techniques, simple disarming, whether it’s a long gun or a handgun. We use different types of things to do where you can use a group, hopefully because you can always want to use a team to overcome the assailant if you can versus one-on-one situation to be able to get that dangerous gun, long gun, or handgun away from the assailant and then subdue them until police can arrive on scene. Most active shooter incidents end in under ten minutes. And most of them are going to end before police even arrive on the scene. So, we want people to have that confidence that if I don’t have any other way to get out of the situation, what can I do to hopefully protect my life and those and others? 

So, we talk about how to disarm, obviously, but then how to go after the critical senses of sight and breathing so, you know, attacking the eyes, attacking the nose, et cetera, that no matter how big you are, how strong you are, that’s going to render somebody, no matter what, to be on defense if you’re taking those kind of situations with them. So, we want people to understand what they can do in a worst-case scenario. We always talk about if you’re in an office situation and your doors don’t lock, etc. Or how to put yourself in certain areas around the door. So, when they do walk through, then you can take that action of disarming them. You can throw anything you can at them. At that point, there’s no rules. So, you do everything you can to hopefully save your life and try and render that assailant to where you can get the weapon away from them and keep them contained until police can arrive and then take care of the situation. 

This episode of The Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, re-energize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo has you covered. Visit us at 

So, you mentioned earlier that most incidents happened within or end within ten minutes, which is a lot shorter than I would have ever predicted because everything you hear is it feels for everybody that’s there like an eternity. How does that impact some of the actions you might need to take as a result? Because I’m assuming the first responders, when they show up, they don’t know that the situation stopped. 

Yeah, that’s exactly it. Police when they arrive on the scene, their number one objective is to get into the scene and render it safe and secure before they can declare as being safe. So, to your point, a lot of times it’s taking much longer than the actual incident because they don’t know if it’s been secure and safe at that point. Once police get on scene and can secure it and either subdue the assailant or can identify that it’s now no longer an active scene. That’s when an EMS can respond and go in and treat those that have either been shot or wounded, et cetera. And we spent a good amount of our time with the training, which kind of sets ours apart from other situations, which is folks don’t bleed control. So, we want people to become immediate responders. You can bleed to death in under three minutes. So again, if an active shooter situation has taken place in under ten minutes, usually before police can even get on scene and then render it safe or secure, that individual who may have been shot. And if it’s a severe arterial bleed, again, three minutes, you could die. 

And that’s one of the leading causes of preventable deaths is bleeding to death. We want people to understand how to pack a wound, how to apply a tourniquet, how to be able to save someone’s life. That the first responders. The police that are going through trying to render it safe are not able to add assistance to those individuals. It’s only then when EMS gets there that they can start to get those victims and treat them. That could be a pretty long time at that point, depending on the different scenarios and the scenes. So, we really spend time on how to apply tourniquets, how to pack a wound if you don’t have a tourniquet, all those things to hopefully help stop that severe bleeding so they can get the aid that they need when EMS does arrive, and they are able to get onto the scene itself. 

Which also leads me to think that it’s very valuable to inform the first responders because the sooner that they can let EMS come on board, the more lives get saved.

Yes, there are different protocols to do. If you do apply a tourniquet to somebody, you want to make sure you do things like put across or a T on the individual’s forehead. So, when they’re walking through, they know that somebody has a tourniquet on them. It’s also important if you can if there is an active scene when you’re calling 911 to report it, if you can let them know if there are some different casualties or fatalities taking place, any kind of descriptions you can give, if you know the active shooter so they’re aware of who it is or if there’s multiple people, all those things are going to kind of help the first responders when they get on scene to understand what they’re going to be encountering potentially. But we really want to give people the tools and the confidence on how to be an immediate response in those critical moments when they’re not going to be able to get the immediate attention that they need from EMS when the scene is still kind of in an active situation.

Yeah, it’s terrifying. It definitely makes you think that it’s worth understanding how to prepare because some of these things I probably would have caught from watching a movie or too many movies. But some of these, I think, are not necessarily the learnings, and it’s not the best place to learn from Hollywood on how to respond in a case like this now. 

And the hard part is you don’t really know how you’re going to react. So, we talk about the kind of flight versus freeze scenario and everyone’s going to react a little bit differently when you’re put into that situation as much as we go through some of the training with it, until you’re in that situation, you don’t know if you have the flight or freeze reaction because your body is going to instantly choose one path or the other. We hope that the training allows you to understand going into it, what your options are so you can respond accordingly. But we teach people to get somebody off the X. So, if someone does freeze, you want to go up there and you want to make sure that you’re kind of tapping them on the back in an aggressive manner to get them off that X to help them help them run or help them evade, et cetera. Because, again, you just don’t know how you’re going to respond in that situation when it is a real-life incident. 

Absolutely. So, we’ve talked about some strategies, the situational awareness, the escape of a tack, or I think you talked about online security, referring to it as run, hide, fight. What are some additional considerations organizations can take to minimize the impact or the likelihood of happening if something like this happening? 

Yeah, I think it depends on the type of industry and organization. So, when we go to training, we try to talk about different ways that you can hopefully you can’t necessarily 100% prevent it, but you can minimize the different risk. So, if you’re facility open to the public, if you’re a retail situation, obviously you’re going to be a public facing if you’re a private business, do you have specific key entry so employees with keys going get in like a key Fob, et cetera? Do you have cameras? Do you have an alert system throughout your organization where if there is an emergency, active shooter situation, fire anything else that you can alert employees of what’s going on in an immediate situation? So, we try and walk them through things like that. We also look at how their facility is laid out. Again, something you wouldn’t really recognize. A lot of times that would make a difference. But do all your doors open inwards? They open outwards. Do they all have locks on them? Do they have windows on them? Certain things that again, we kind of take for granted and don’t really pay attention to. But in that type of situation, if it’s an inward opening door, then how do you barricade that door? 

We kind of walk through. If it’s outward opening and doesn’t have a lock, you can’t barricade it. So, what could you do in that situation? We go through some different kind of drills where we show how you can set up a room if someone were to come in to hopefully distract them enough to where you can then in those split seconds, go for that attack phase and you can hopefully subdue them. But we go through different scenarios, and we really try to look at each facility kind of as a standalone situation because everyone’s a little bit different on their workforce. Again, are they a public facing company? Do they have security on site? Certain facilities have private security there, so there are different measures you can take. None of those are going to completely prevent something from happening, because a lot of times it’s going to be their employee or a known person to that company. So, it’s usually not just a random person that’s going to walk in and have one of these incidents happen. So, we just try and give people the understanding of what to look for. And then obviously that situational awareness keeping a little bit more of a closer eye on things.

Something does seem a little bit funny, or someone appears to be acting a little bit differently. We want to make sure we’re taking those as serious as we can to ensure that we’re having those conversations early and often before something were to happen.

I think it matches a lot of themes you’ve talked about before in this podcast around. I got to share actively caring. If you know your teams’ members really well, you’ll recognize some signs that maybe something’s off. You may recognize some themes from mental health and maybe some challenges that are impacting them. You may not necessarily think there’s an active shooter situation coming out of it, but the position of care is the right way to drive forward. Is there value in doing drills? And I bring this up because I remember once, many moons ago, I was in a business meeting, and it was in a nuclear site. Obviously heightened sense of security in that environment. In the middle of it, they ran a drill. Is that something that’s recommended in businesses as well?

I mean, for us, we like to do drills because even though you can’t replicate a true situation, you start to get some of the muscle memory down. So, like, for example, for tourniquets, never put on a tourniquet before. Once you a few times, you start to understand how it works. In an emergency situation, you don’t have time to kind of read the instructions and kind of look through it, et cetera. So, it’s not a difficult task, but something if you’re not familiar with it, you may be a little bit kind of hesitant to do something you’ve never done before. So, we want to get people to do some of the actions. We do some of the barricading drills to kind of show them how to set up a room, how to do the disarming, if nothing else, to give them the confidence that they can do it if they were to have that situation. Some people have never even handled a gun before. And while we use orange kind of replica weapons, sometimes that’s a little bit of an uncomfortable situation. So, we want people, if they’re open to it, to at least understand what you could do to get that weapon away from somebody and to have that confidence.

So, if something were to happen, at least in the back of your mind, you know you’ve done it before, and you know what to do and how to go through that kind of process of actually doing the disarming or putting a tourniquet on or packing a wound. Those are things that we want to get people familiar with to where that muscle memory is, at least there and they’ve known it before, and they could do it again if they had to.

It’s not dissimilar to earthquake drills that you didn’t counter in Southern California or actually most of California just to make sure people are prepared in case something was to happen.

Yeah, just like CPR, we do CPR, we do compressions, all that kind of stuff. So, people get the understanding of what the actual action is. So, when they do or they happen to have that situation where they are called upon to do it, at least they’ve done it before, and they have that kind of skill. Kind of not necessarily ingrained, but they are familiar with it.

Grained. Well, Anthony, thank you so much for coming on the show, sharing some of your insights around it. Hopefully none of the listeners will ever have to encounter a scenario like this. I appreciate you at least sharing some tips. If somebody wants to get in touch with you to learn more, what’s the best way to do that?

Yes, our website is and we go through the whole process of the course itself. You can become an instructor to train either within your organization or we have instructors across all of the US that we can deploy to go out and train organizations. So, check out the website. We got a lot of resources on there and love to talk more to people that are looking to take their training to the next level to ensure that their employees or them as individuals have the skill sets to act if a situation were to happen. Perfect.

Well, thank you so much. 

Thank you, Eric. 

Thank you for listening to the safety guru on c-suite radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the pack. Grow your success cap through the hearts and minds of your teams. Eric Michrowski.

The Safety Guru with Eric Michrowski

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Anthony Corwin is the Executive General Manager for HSI, overseeing the Emergency Care business division. HSI’s Emergency Care business supports a multitude of brands and solutions, some of which have been staples in the market for over 40 years. MEDIC First Aid, ASHI, EMS Safety and AVERT make life-saving skills accessible to everyone with the hope of making an impact on as many lives as possible.

Anthony has a true passion for leading the day-to-day efforts and helping to drive the mission of Making Workplaces and Communities Safer. For more than six years, it has been Anthony’s honor to support over 50,000 authorized HSI Instructors who bring a passion and commitment to CPR and AVERT training to their organizations and communities.

As Managing Director of AVERT, Anthony shares what he’s seeing in the training industry, “The U.S. is experiencing another year where mass shootings are occurring nearly ten times per week. People are calling every day to get training and further develop their life-saving skills.”

Anthony continues, “The hope is that the skills learned during AVERT training are never required. However, should the time come that a person finds themselves in a life-threatening situation, AVERT training will have them prepared on how to respond and save lives.”

For more information about AVERT and to take the corporate safety readiness survey, go to



The Importance of Not Letting Complacency Set In with Alan Newey

The importance of not letting complacency set in



“We’ll never realize the accidents we prevent, but we sure will know the ones we don’t.” In this episode, Alan Newey details the sequence of events that led to a devastating workplace incident in September of 1999. The plant where he had been employed for 15 years had placed production over safety, and the voice in his head knew he hadn’t received the necessary training to do his job safely. Alan highlights the role that complacency and comfortability play in workplace incidents and the need to speak up to work together to send every team member home safely.


Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and wellbeing 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 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 Alan Newey. He’s a safety motivational speaker with CNBC Safe in Australia. He’s been unfortunately part of a workplace accident, lost his dominant arm in a conveyor accident. So, Alan, welcome to the show. Love to hear your story, really in terms of what happened in that role and some of the core themes around that you talked about when you speak to different organizations.

Yeah. Thanks for having me here. This is really important to me for people to hear the message because I don’t want people to go through what I did, especially my better half. Kathy doesn’t want the families to go through at all. And I’ll get into that. But a little background on it. I’d actually been working for the company for 15 years and I’ve done the role that I’m going to describe 4586 times before my actual accident over 15 years. The accident was September 30, 1999. And I can tell you exactly what time 735. It doesn’t matter what the press says. They said 747, 35. I was there. I should know. But no, I just left the home in the morning. This is a kiss goodbye roll up to my website a little mate that I’ve been working with for 15 years. He started work at the same place about two weeks before I did. And we’re just joking around like normal. He was a little short guy, five foot six. And I make Snow White and Seven Dwarfs jokes about him every single day. I was a heavier set guy, so he’d make set jokes about me. 

And we had a great working relationship. And we got down to this place, the plant that I was working, which would load 112 trucks a day on average, 34 times to a truck, eight minutes to a load 100 trucks a day. And he’s only five foot six for a little mate. And I’m six, too. And he wasn’t feeling well. And it was his job this day to drive cranes and operate the conveyors up high. And I was supposed to control room downstairs. Well, he wasn’t feeling well, so we swapped roles and we’ve done that before. We look after each other. I went up and started to adjust the conveyors and make my way up to the crane. And as one of the incubators is always tracked out to the side due to moisture from product or urea. It’s a fertilizer. And we have to dry the belt down and track it back into place. And the training I was showing, and he was showing was to grab this little green bucket with some drying dust inside it, reach inside the moving conveyor, throw the dust on by hand, and then once the track back into place, start the next section goes to the crane.

When I was blowing, this drawing dust belt didn’t come back far enough. So, I threw one extra handful of dust, which normally an extra handful from the normal amount. And I heard it bang. And I thought nothing of it. And I went up and looking up and down the conveyor looking for this noise that was in the machine. And I went to scratch my head, but there was nothing there to scratch my head with. That noise was my arm going around the machine and I felt nothing. No pain, nothing. 


Nothing at all. So, you could say I said a few explosives is I climbed down a 30-foot ladder running out to the front. My little workmate with a shock horror in his eyes has come over and jumped onto a stunt to try and stop the bleeding, which he couldn’t because what we didn’t know at the same time, it actually torn the chest on the inside at right angles. The chest was pointing at right angles on the inside. Now this is where my little mate owes me for beers. And I’m getting delayed because of the way it affects people. He owes me a few beers for this because he passed out. But he was hanging off there. He kept his strength on there. So, he’s still hanging on. So, I picked up my good. I’m not carrying that little high in the first place. So, then it all started from there. I played a high grade of tennis. I dumped Australian Open on the lines and all that beforehand. And the police officer who showed up to the accident. This is where it affects different people that people don’t think about. The police officer who showed up to my accident was a man of mine who I played in a tennis tournament three days before. 

And he just happened to be the police officer. He was sent to my accident. When he walked in the room, he’s gone into like a shot because he knew who it was. And down the track a little bit, he challenges me for a rematch because I haven’t got a double handed backhand anymore. But he’s not getting it, I can tell you now. And then it all went from there. Five reattachments on my arm to try and save it, which I couldn’t. In the hospital, they told my better half they only had 2 hours to live, and she had to make plans after its reattachment. So, she was trying to get through and with my family. So, I can’t only imagine what she’s going through. They took me back into the surgery and they gave her an. A four piece of paper, would you believe? And she had to sign for this. We’re going to pack Ellen back into surgery. Police sign here. And it was removed all of them permanently. Sign and date here to cover the backsides. Legally, they removed it. One of the doctors made a little clamp about that big about 50 cent coin type thing in Australia.

And it was lifesaving, that little clamp they put inside the chest with the 300 staples of stitches already holding me together. Saved my life. 2 hours later, I was watching television and then everything really started, really started with the rehabs and the things and wife goes through and everybody else. And it’s still going on today, 20 years later, and it hasn’t stopped.

So, tell me a little bit about some of the follow-on effects. You talked about your significant other at the time when you have an injury, the effect is significant on everybody. You talked about the police officer telling me about some of the following effects because it’s your injury and what happens to you. But there’s also a significant effect, everybody that you care, and you love. 

Yes. And I think myself, the impact on the others after my incident is actually greater than mine. It’s even greater. You’ll find out who your friends are and who can’t deal with it and people you’ll never see again. My mother-in-law rested us off. I’m still alive, mind you. And she put on the black outfit like I did the Greek. So, I was meaning to a Greek family, and she put on all the Greek outfit, all in black, and she’s doing all the things and everything. My mother went quiet. My father, he worked at the same company for 47 years and retired three years before my accident. The culture was they never spoke about safety. Safety was never mentioned, really on that site and never, ever mentioned on that site. It was always production ahead of safety. So, we all pick our jobs and all that type of thing and the profits up, I guess. So, he was kicking himself. But that’s an even older culture than me. Can understand that because the culture built up over 100 years like that. A father-in-law, he reacted differently where he actually came up to the bedside with his worry teams. 

Clicking them in my ear drove me crazy. And he still got that thick European accent. And he’s gone to me, Ellen, you know, die. If you’ll die, this is no good for me. You sign contract. Kathy your problem. She must stay with you. And that actually helped a lot. Believe it or not, they actually helped a lot. Because if you’re saying that’s not good for me, this is my father-in-law, right. But the biggest flow on effect was my little work mate. He was with me that day in the accident. And that’s the saddest one of all. And the one that can really today get me upset. And that’s over 20 years ago. He passed away about eight years after my accident. The stress he put himself under caused medical issues. A cancer formed in his stomach and he’s no longer with us. The doctors say maybe it wasn’t that. I know differently. In my heart, I know differently the stress he put himself under because he never accepted the fact that I got hurt and he didn’t. I was doing his job that day and I couldn’t get into his head because I’m 62, he’s five, six.

I miss being pulled into that machine by two inches, less than two inches. And I would have been pulled into that machine and made miss me. So, if he did that job that day was in that particular spot, he would have reached past that point and he would have been to that machine. 


So, this is bad, but it’s the better of the two Eagles, if you can understand that. But he couldn’t accept it. He couldn’t accept that I got hurt and he didn’t. And that was the biggest flowing effect of the whole incident. 

So, you worked there for many years. Safety was never talked about. It was about getting the job done, getting it faster, improving profits. You had a voice inside of you. Tell me a little bit about what that was. 

When I first started there in September October 1999. Sorry, 80, 415 years before my accident, I was showing that plant where I had my accident. And this little voice inside me said, and when I showed me how to do the drying of the conveyors and all that type of thing, because I had all the front hand load of crane operation licenses, no problem. But the training was five minutes of this is how we do the job. This is how we drive the plant. End of the story. Five minutes. Five minutes is awesome. And if somebody came under that plant, that’s what I’d show you. And I’ll be putting data. Sure, because that’s all I knew. And the voice insider said, you don’t do this. This is dangerous. And they did tell me it was dangerous. And to be careful.

That’s not very helpful.

Right? No, there’s no guarding on his conveyor or anything like that. And it could mean the accident could be prevented for less than $800. But I sent a quarter of a million dollars in reacting to it. That’s the sad part about it. The money was there. But the voice was, you don’t do this job. This is too dangerous. Don’t do it this way. Speak up. But you wanted to keep this job because you got your mortgage, you got your bills, you got everything else. So, you didn’t speak up. And as time went on, the voice got less and less because you became more confident in the area, and it became second nature. So, all of a sudden you stopped listening to that voice and knew yourself, put yourself in danger with your complacency and just pushing forward. You didn’t listen to that voice anymore. You’d become part of the environment and you didn’t see the whole picture. 

So that is a really important theme because really we start getting complacent when we start doing it too often you talked about how you did it 4000 sometimes and nothing had gone wrong and present in those 4000 sometimes your voice starts going slower and less and less and you start accepting, what are some of the signs that people should be looking for to say, Am I getting complacent with this and really reflect in terms of how do I relook at the hazard in front of me? 

One of the big signs I reckon in that is when I start and I said it to myself many, many times, I’m used to this job, I know what I’m doing, I know what I’m doing, I’m bulletproof, I know what I’m doing. Don’t tell me what to do if somebody actually came past, but nobody ever did that. Anyway, if you stop listening, if you start hearing or you stop hearing that voice, that’s time to take five and get a fresh set of eyes in to look at where you’re working, and you can go do the same for their spot. Okay, swap for that thing, that’s the tower power sign. But the idea is once you become complacent and you hear and you don’t get anybody in and you just keep going, it’s hard, it really is hard. But what I should have done is step back. I did realize that I was getting easier, and the job was getting easier. If you start saying to yourself, I’ve been doing this job a long time, I know what I’m doing and then you start repeating it to other people, that’s the sign, you should be stepping back. 

You’re complacent with what you’re doing. That’s the big red flag. If you start paying for people, I know what I’m doing, I’ve done this job a million times. That’s the big red flag. You’re actually putting yourself in danger and heading towards a major incident without knowing it.

I think that’s a really important point. Listen to that voice, look for the signs that I’m getting comfortable with it, too comfortable with it, too comfortable and then kind of pull yourself. I think one of the things I was recently looking at is in aviation, they’ll go so far in many cases to make sure you’re not flying with the same crew, you’re not doing the same route all the time. So, you’re not flying Sydney to La or New York to London. Every time that we switch it up a little bit, so you have less chance of it becomes routine in many cases, not Airlines, but really trying to drive that switching of roles to same as takeoff and landing. There’s an alternating who’s responsible? Is it the captain of the first officer that’s going to be responsible for it? 

No, that’s right. That scenario sort of happened after my incident. People started doing different roles and changed around into different places. The culture of where I was. That person like Alan, knows that crane back to front. He knows that conveyor system back to front. We keep him there because we know we don’t have to watch him. He knows the job. And then the person in the maintenance hall that does something. And there was one guy who had an accident that I was working with, and he’s been in the maintenance hold for 37 years doing exactly the same role every day.

Steps in, you get completed. 

Right. And he had a major accident at our same site and went home nine months later. 

You talked about the other accident. What was interesting is there were no reports. When we first talked, there were no reports, no recordables. I think you said 463 days, is that correct? 

That’s correct. We went 463 days of no lost time injuries and no recordables because nobody reported it. Nobody reported them. Okay. After that 460-day bracket, and that was a big red flag in itself. We’re heading towards an incident without going. We had four majors in 18 months. Four majors in 18 months. And I think the average is 860,000 reportable a day. That’s ten every second. 

Somebody actually does say something which is not common. 

You’re getting over. What is it? 15,000 unrecorded incidences per minute. And they’re the ones leading to the major actions. There’s 5000 /minute that are recorded. Well, they’re doing something about it. They’re recording them. If you’re not recording them, you’re in that 15,000 bracket, which is where I was and my whole work crew was. It led to major accidents. It’s the amount of people getting hurt just because they’re not reporting very simple communication in it. If they reported things, they could do things about it. But if you don’t, you can’t. Nobody knows. 

But also, a lot of leaders start reflecting. I’ve had 463 days. We must be doing something right here. Things are safe. You see it as a leading indicator. I fixed the problem, but obviously it wasn’t. 

This episode of The Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, reenergize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions. Propolo has you covered. Visit [email protected]

No, because what it was with where I was working, they had the 463 days, and they had all this. After we passed one year, there’s this big celebration, I can tell you now, they put on drinks in a barbecue type of thing for everybody. And that type of stuff. And it was down to the fact that even when somebody did come to inspect the place, they knew they were coming. So, the place was cleaned down to make it look good or they inspected, and they always pass the test. But nobody ever picked up no guards. And I asked for a guard for that belt, and I was told it was too expensive and the guard would have cost less than $800. And they went a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of guards after the accident, in reaction. And if you could have seen the guard they put onto it, that actually caused my workmates risk than putting them at risk with the guard they put on there. It was so big and so massive you couldn’t move it. The safety system to protect them was on the inside of the guard and they couldn’t reach it. 

What solution is that? Because everybody got scared with my accident, I think being the fourth one in the list. And when they got scared, that’s when everybody was running and ducking for cover, that type of thing, they’re getting wrong legal advice. That’s where all the legal people come in and then really make the waters muddy and murky because everybody’s trying to think, what do I do now to cover my backside? And that’s what it got me. They got through it all, but it was years. It wasn’t just done overnight. The plant closed down. Five years later after the 2012, I think it closed down. Why? Because it was unsafe. 

Oh, it was shut down for being unsafe.

Yes. Not because it was unstoppable profitable. Not profitable. They were making millions and millions of dollars every week. They had to do all these improvements for safety. And they reckon it was better for them just to move the plans to another C-suite and rebuild the whole structure. So, where safety was, they were told production would keep their jobs. It’s not true safety would have caused their jobs. 

But too often people don’t look at that way. When you speak to audiences around your experience and some of your learnings, one of the themes I know you talk about is around regret. Tell me a little bit more about how you impact that theme and the stories there. 

The regret I have personally is one thing I can listen to my wife when she drove past that plant one day and she’d never been on site, never looked inside the four walls, and she came home and told me, leave the company, there’s going to be an accident there. She just had this feeling.

You just had this feeling? Yeah. And me being the mail and everything else and headed about it because I actually did love what I was doing. I turned around and said, I’ve been here for almost 15 years. I know what I’m doing. Don’t worry about it. Everything’s fine. Four weeks later or six weeks later, I had the accident. 

So, I regretted not listening to her, putting her through all the stuff that she went through, all the house she must have had gone through. And she kept a lot of things to herself during that process to try and protect me. And I did the same thing. And then almost causes a family element breakdown post thing. I walked past thousands of times on that plan, thousands of times. And I saw things and I had closures and all that. And I did the same thing, not reporting them. Same with my little Workman bosses walked past the whole thing. Nobody ever spoke up. And everybody knew was dangerous. Everybody knew it was dangerous. And when the accident happened, the big word that came out of everybody, why didn’t I do something about it? Why didn’t I speak up? I’m going to regret this for the rest of my life. 

And now they all live with it. And I see some of them 20 years down the track and run into them because we all live in the same areas. Yeah. And they say the same thing to me. Why didn’t we speak up? We had four people seriously heard at sight because we didn’t do anything about it and we all lost our jobs anyway. So, what was the point? If we spoke up for our workmates, we all have our jobs. We’d all be playing tricks on each other and having the fun that we were having and going home to our families. 

Speaking up is not that straightforward. It takes a climate and environment where people create an environment. The leaders create an environment where you’re comfortable speaking up. Everybody, yes, does have that responsibility to speak up when they see something that’s unsafe. But also, I’d say there’s a leadership responsibility to say, am I creating this at all my sites, all my locations? Are people comfortable speaking up? Am I seeing near misses being reported? Am I seeing people talking about concerns and are those being addressed? 

They weren’t people as they just walk past. They lived with the regret of not acting up. And they just keep wishing they did act up and speak up about it. Because when I actually got around to the plan after my accident and spoke up, other people started to speak. They started to talk to each other. They started to communicate with each other, realized that they all wanted the same thing and that’s for people to go home and enjoy life. And if they were on that wave plan, even just, hey, Eric, if we could fix that, we’re going to possibly save an incident from happening. And it all moved on from that. Because the thing is, what they all realized too late is we’ll never realize the accidents we prevent. But we are sure as we’ll know the ones we don’t. 

Right? Absolutely. Well said. But I think your message as well around focus on the bottom line won’t get you there because the cost of serious injuries are expensive. 

And not just the legal costs, not just the insurance costs, but the toll on everybody else that’s involved. 

You can’t replace him with me. You can’t replace what your wife, your significant other goes through your family and all that. But to give you an idea, just an idea. The accent was preventable for less than $800. There was an airline in this shed that I work which could have been produced for under $100. It would have prevented the accident. Now that I’m missing the right arm and it makes it blunt, that little Bolt that’s sticking out at the end is $14,000. Okay. This is $0.50 from a hardware store, which stops me from ripping the shirts and T shirts. If I don’t put it on, I’ll rip the shirt with a Bolt. But I’ve been through four leagues so far. This is a robotic limb and it’s controlled by brainwaves, so I can open and close it with my hand and operate to have a drink. I don’t even write a sentence with it, but it doesn’t replace the real thing. It’s just an A, but it’s a quarter of a million dollars. Australia in a survey about 170,000 US. I don’t want it. I would love to throw it out the window, no doubt, but it’s something I have to use because it straightens my spine up and stops future medical issues.

It keeps you in shape because I’ve no longer have the weight there. So, the spine starts to move. So, then you get back pain and it causes other issues down the track. 

All these following effects. 

Yes. You’re always living with going to the doctors, putting in a request for something else because of the incident. And then you’ve got to jump through all the medical boards and all the hurdles and all that other stuff. One thing that I love to talk just mentioned to you, that was a flowing effect of my wife. She got a letter just in, a little letter sent to her in the mail, and she could have got this day one and it was to look after her because all the people looking after me when I’m in boys looking after me, she just sits there. But she could have got somebody to talk to or counseling or something to help her. She received a letter stating that fact. There’s people there to help her, but she got the letter ten years after the accident, ten years, ten years later. 


On this, because if I had a right arm, I swear on the Bible and all those things there. But my doctor got a letter about me, and I was getting interviewed every three months for three years. So, there’s three years of my life lost being interviewed every three months by investigators. And you couldn’t forget the accident if you wanted to. My doctor was getting the same 22 questions but had to answer from a medical perspective. Okay, so this time we got 23 questions. Now, if I was to ask you what the 23rd question was because it upset Kathy so much, she wanted to go down in the head office and go postal with everybody, and I had to laugh it off, what do you reckon the question would have been? 

Okay. What was the likelihood of Mr. Newest condition to be proved and the prognosis towards the limb growing back? 

Got to be kidding.

I’m not somebody one of their officers actually asked, would the arm go back?

But cutting was not impressive. 

I’m sure she wasn’t. So, I think that the message here is it’s more than financial like, as you said. But I think organizations also need to look at it in terms of how do I drive safety? If I drive safety, I’m also driving. Like you said, the plant would have probably still been operating. All these following effects. It looks like a cost benefit analysis, but it’s so. 

And also, a good business is a business that’s safe. 

And a good business that’s safe is also going to be a productive and a successful business it is because part of the flow and effective they’re closing the plant was 54 of us lose their jobs, permanents 112 part time and casuals lose their jobs. The little shops where you buy your teams next door, we’re gone. 

Because we’re gone. The flow on effect from an incident like mine was not affecting just me, my family, workmates, friends, and all that type of thing. But the little people that you’ve built up relationships in the little shops around you for 15 years and you never see them again. It was like a little village if you wanted to say it and it’s all gone. 

It’s horrible.

All because safety wasn’t taken seriously. 

Alan, I really appreciate you sharing a story. I think it’s an important message for a lot of organizations. You speak a lot about safety motivated organizations and team members around safety. Somebody would like to share your story, bring your story. How can they get in touch with you? Is it through CNB Safe? 

Yeah, James Woods runs it and he’s a very good friend of mine. And we were in our apartment. We are both involved in major accidents now. We compare who’s got the worst one. The ball plays in a wheelchair and I go, I can push you in circles. And he goes, well, I can swim straight. You can’t. I can find my shoelaces up. You can’t. So that’s the flow on effect. Tie my shoelaces, one hand, put on your pants. And to everybody I’d say this, go home, drop your pants. I mean that in a nice way. Drop your pants, grab an Apple, and put it in your dominant hand. Then try and put your pants on with your other hand. 


And that will give you an idea of straight away. What’s like with one arm?


It’s just a simple test for CNB Safe. I go anywhere and I’ve one of the few people that can tell the CEO of the company and I’ve done it to some major companies. If they don’t pick up their ass and they gain you’re going to jail, and I’ve said it in front of the workers and everything and that’s not it. I’m not here for that. I’m here to make sure he does his job. You do your job, and you all go home safely.

Ultimately, everybody has to come home safe.

That’s right. And everybody’s going to work together. That’s it. 

Alan, thank you so much for coming on the show. Really appreciate you sharing a story and have a wonderful rest of your day or morning for you. 

Thank you very much.

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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Alan Newey is a survivor of a workplace incident. He lost his right dominant arm to a conveyor belt in September 1999. For over 13 years, Alan has been presenting to various groups around Australia on the effects of his workplace incident and the impact that it’s had on himself and his family. Alan speaks from the point of view of an injured worker and gives a real insight into what happens to you during and after such a life-changing experience. Alan is extremely confronting on the issues and effects of a workplace incident and his presentation not only addresses the sequence of events leading up to his incident, but the flow-on effects such a life-changing experience entails.
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Elevating the Strategic Impact of Safety at Executive Table with Dave Ulrich

elevating the strategic impact of safety at executive table



In this thought-provoking episode, we tap into the expertise of Dave Ulrich, one of the Top Management and Leadership Gurus who has been ranked as the #1 most influential person in HR. Gather key insights from his approaches that have helped elevate the role of HR into a more strategic function in leading organizations and grasp how Safety Executives can leverage similar approaches to increase influence in the C-Suite.


Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and wellbeing 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 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 honored to have Dave Ulrich with me. He’s widely recognized as one of the top management gurus in leadership. He has been called the most influential HR leader of the decade, the father of modern human resources. He’s named one of the 20 most influential business professors in the world and ranked the number one management educator and guru by Businessweek and listed in Forbes as one of the world’s top five business coaches. Dave Ulrich is the Rentis Lyker Professor at the Raw School of Business, University of Michigan, and a partner at the RBL Group, a consulting firm that’s focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value. He has published over 200 articles and book chapters and over 30 books. He is born of Herman Miller company for 16 years perform workshops for over half of the Fortune 200. In addition to coaching successful business leaders. I had the honor of collaborating with Dave nearly a decade ago on an executive development program and saw his genius come to life with a very senior audience. Dave, what struck me was really how you made the complex simple. I’m truly honored to have you join me on the podcast today.  

I have to first ask you; how do you accomplish so much and leave such an amazing legacy?  

I eat a lot. Food is the fuel. I’m not sure I’ve left a legacy, but I have an engine inside that somehow keeps driving me. And I think so do you. I should go to you. You’re the Safety Guru so I could ask you the same question. I love ideas. I think ideas are the oil of the world and it’s fun to shape and discover ideas. And I want to learn with you today. Eric, this is going to be a great discussion. 

Excellent. So, Dave, you’re widely known in HR circles. Everybody that I’ve connected to an HR thinks of you in really high regards. Somebody could wonder why I’m inviting you to this podcast that’s focused on safety and leaders focus on safety. And I think it’s really simple. You’ve had such a tremendous impact on transforming the role of HR many organizations, and I think it really could serve the blueprint for how safety organizations that have very similar corporate roles have an equally impact on team members. And so, in my experience, many safety organizations haven’t yet elevated their role to be a strategic partner in the same way that HR has done over the last few years. So, if you could share a little bit about some of your insights around elevating the role of HR and turning into a very powerful engine towards strategy.  

Again, HR is not all the way there yet, but let me try to do that with an example. In the last three weeks, we were teaching a course at the University of Michigan where I’m privileged to teach, and about 25 people came in for a two-week course. And we said, what do you want to learn? And they mentioned the HR issues. I want to learn about leadership development, executive compensation, changing a culture, Dei, big issue, hybrid work. And then at the end of the week, the two weeks, they said, good, I’ve got a template. I’m going to go back to my business leader and show them the work plan for name one of those diversity culture, leadership. And I’m going to show them the plan. And I said, wrong. When you go back to your business leader, you do not start with your plan. You start with the question, what’s the business issue our company is wrestling with. What’s the business issue? The business issue may be cost, it may be innovation, it may be global distribution, it may be digital, it may be technology. What’s the business issue we as a member of the business team are wrestling with and then show how what you know and do in HR will enable that business issue. 

That mindset is a different shift. So, culture, leadership, executive, comp. Yeah, they’re all critical, but you start with the business. The other thing that might be helpful for your audience, our audience for the next few minutes is two words so that people came in, they wrote on a flip chart. Because I’m old and we still use flip charts in person classes. I want to learn about hybrid work. I want to learn about culture, the great resignation. And I said, go to the flip chart and write two words so that that’s it. So that and unless the so that leads to a business outcome, you’re not going to have the impact. Business leaders don’t care as much about some of the technical issues in HR. And every time I say HR, in my mind, I’ve seen Eric is replacing the word safety. They don’t care as much about the technical issues in HR, but they do care about the outcome of those issues. That’s the headline. My headline is HR is not about HR. It’s about helping the business succeed in the marketplace. Safety is not about safety alone. It’s about helping our business be successful in the marketplace where we have to be successful. 

I think that’s a really important point. The other element is the role of elevating. Safety is much bigger than just having rules. It’s also getting into the culture space. It’s thinking about how to elevate the role of leaders. But we also know from organizations that have done safety very well that you actually create a great learning organization because safety is really about learning, understanding events that happen, making sure they don’t happen again, disseminating that information. So, shifting as well the conversation and not just be about an injury rate. If I’m hearing you correct, it’s also so that we can connect to some of the other business priorities. 

Yeah. I mean, let’s play that out. I’ll play it out with you. We want to manage our injury rate, which is critical. Right. So that what! let me play it with you. I want to manage the injury rate. That’s the data that I see. So that what. 

So that our team members are happy to come here, feel safe, and know that they’ll come home to their loved one’s day in and day out. 

And I’m going to keep going. That’s still inside the company. 

So that we have a better employee experience and that’s teams, members, safety and et cetera. 

So that what? So that when you think about what you were just talking about, the great resignation, that we can keep the best talent within the organization.  

By the way, I’m being obnoxious.  

I love obnoxious.  

Let me tell you where I’m going. I think until the soldier gets to a stakeholder outside the company, we’re not fully engaged. For example, I want to do safety incidents so that our employees have a better experience and they can return home safely with their loved ones so that our customers have a better experience. And the correlation between employee experience and customer experience is very high. And I want a customer experience so that our investors have a better experience. If we get a higher customer valuation, the investor value goes up. And suddenly I’ve created a value chain, and the Soviet forces me to get outside the company to not just say it’s about safety and wearing harnesses. Those are events. But so that gets me outside. By the way, the other place is fun to start is to say to the business leader, what is it you’re worried about today? What is she or he worried about? I’m worried about innovation. Then you say, because of what’s going to drive innovation in my company because of financial resources. Great. Because of employees, because of their safety and their wellbeing. 

And I can go so that or because of and starting with either the safety or HR activity or the outcome. And suddenly I’m building a bridge, and it’s that bridge. And by the way, I didn’t mean to be rude to you, but I think that so that really pushes the assumption. It pushes the assumption. And eventually the so that should almost always be customer. My headline is, I’ll give an example I use in HR, and you can translate the safety.   


What’s the most important thing that HR can give an employee belief, meaning become growth, belong, community, or all the above or none of the above, and everybody votes all the above.  


And it’s wrong. The most important thing you can give an employee is a company that succeeds in the marketplace, because unless and until you succeed in the marketplace, there is no workplace. By the way, you’re lucky to have not worked with me in the company that I’ve often worked with. I’ve worked in towards our Circuit City, Eastman Kodak. I’ve worked in so many great companies that don’t exist anymore. And you know what? They had great internal practices, but they weren’t connected to the customer. And unless we succeed in that marketplace, there is no workplace. And I find HR people get really offended. Well, I’m here to make people feel good. No, you’re not. You’re here to help succeed in the marketplace, because if you fell in the marketplace, that’s the most dehuman. Well, I’m here to humanize the workplace. No, the most dehumanizing thing you can have is 100,000 employees out of work.  


That’s dehumanizing. You go out and you build your system so that you succeed in the marketplace. By the way, I got passionate on that. I probably should be more temperate, but I just think sometimes we get so enamored with our activities and what we do. Now, the second point you raised, which I love, HR is often seen as an event. It’s a pay event. It’s a training event. It’s a hiring or promotion event. You got to change the event into a pattern. And the pattern is the culture. There’s a lot of isolated events. Safety is an event, but the culture is when that event becomes a sustainable pattern. And that pattern is embedded in how we think and act and feel, and it drives the events. It’s not about an event. It’s about a pattern that allows us to be successful over time. And I’m assuming you’ve been in companies. Well, I’d love to ask you, because I want to learn from you. Can you think of a company where safety is an event or a pattern? What’s the difference in those companies?  

I think the organizations where safety is an event is everything is geared and act. Everything is around. Somebody had an injury, and we mobilized to understand how to resolve it. Right. So, it’s very incident driven. A pattern is where it’s a true learning organization. We’re learning from events before anything actually happens. We may have had a near miss. We may have seen something that could have gone wrong, and we start thinking about how do I prevent it from happening before something more serious happened?  

I love it. So, an event is almost an afterthought. A pattern is an anticipation that I can predict. That’s really helpful, Eric, because I see that in HR as well. And we have a whole lot of events, but they get strung together with a string of pearls to create a pattern. And I think that’s where HR suddenly gets helpful. Is that it becomes an ongoing pattern of how we think about treating our people. It’s not an event. Gee, on Tuesday, I’m going to call Jody and tell her she’s great. No, that’s an event or we’re going to have a succession planning day at the board. No, it’s a pattern of treating people with respect. And I assume that same pattern has to occur within safety. You got to get a safety pattern. Now what does that require? A lot of things. I mean, we’ve looked at how do you sustain initiatives? I just got asked. We’re doing some work-on-work tasks. And how do you change the nature of work? Do not focus on the job or the person, but the task. And there are some lessons we’ve learned about making change a sustainable pattern. 

Happy to share those. But, boy, this has been great. Number one, safety is not about safety. It’s about helping our company succeed in the marketplace, too. We do that by creating a pattern, not a set of discrete, isolated events. That’s really helpful.  

Absolutely. And I think that’s the same element where you’re advocating is really bring the role of HR. I would argue safety is the same. Elevate it think more strategic, connect with the executives to have access to that C-suite because we’re solving the issues that matter there. How does an organization transform towards it? How has successful organizations shifted the pattern from more administrative practices to strategic?  

There’s a lot of initiatives in a company, dozens of administrative initiatives. Safety ESG, lots of initiatives we’ve studied. How do you make sure that those initiatives become sustainable changes? We’ve identified seven things. Now going through seven is going to bore your listeners to death. So, I’ll try to make it interesting. Think of this, by the way, the metaphor I love is a pilot’s checklist. Imagine you got on a plane and the pilot’s door was open and it never would be. And the pilot said, we’re too busy today. Let’s just skip the checklist. 

No, you don’t want that.  

I give up. Or the pilot says, let’s do every other item. Now, here’s the seven things, and they start with where you focus. One, you got to have leadership support, right? I got to have a sponsor and a champion who says, this is something I personally and using my status and role and title, stand behind in HR. You’ve got to have business leaders who adopted, who adapted, who make that part of their identity. And so, a business leader in safety has got to model safety. You’ve got to live safety. You’ve got to talk about it. Number one, leadership. Number two. And these are going to be so obvious. I share these with senior executives, and they go and I say, that’s the pilot checklist. Your pilot says, wow, what is that rudder? You don’t want this to be educational. You want it to be disciplined. Number two, you got to create a business need, right? What’s the business case for doing safety? Safety is not just about caring for our people. There is a business case. That’s what we started with. How will it add value to customers? Investor number three, you got to have a clear vision and direction.  

What does safety mean? And I think what do we mean when we say we’re going to be more safe? And I hope it’s not just physical, but I hope it’s also psychological. 100%, yes, that safety is a multi-dimensional concept. And let me just stop with those three for a minute. You got to have a leadership support champion sponsor. You got to have a business case, and you got to have a clear sense of what safety looks like. Those three make sense as a starting point. 

100% makes sense. And I agree with your commentary on psychological safety because what I just shared before, where it’s a pattern, people are speaking up. They’re questioning the work in front of them if something doesn’t feel right so that we’re learning before anything ever happens.  

Actually, that’s really helpful. You just hit a third safety, one, physical safety, which is no question that’s ladders and physical harm and death and also covert and injury. Psychological safety, which is mental health, emotional well-being, which I think is growing right now. I think the pandemic comes down to be an endemic. And we talked earlier. I had to look up that word. But the emotional mental health issue is going crazy. The third safety you just mentioned is social safety, that an employee feels that he or she has a right to speak up, that I share your socials safety net, that I can tell my boss what I’m feeling without the repercussion. That’s actually very interesting to think of. Physical cycle. Okay, leader, I’m going to give my checklist now. I’m a pilot. We have a leader. Do we have a business need? Do we have a vision? Number four, which is the most critical? Have we engaged everybody in the process? Safety is not a random event. It’s getting everybody connected to making it real. It’s not a communication. It’s not a random actor. And we talked about that. Engaging everyone is so critical.  

Number five, have we translated safety? I got to go back to number four, engaging everyone in the HR space. Things happened. We had tragedy with diversity, with death and tragedy in the Ukraine, there was a tragedy and companies send out a broadcast. We stand with Ukraine George Floyd. We stand with these issues. To be honest, those are not very helpful because they’re isolated events. Sending out a safety announcement doesn’t do as much. So, you got to really engage people. Number four. Number five, you got to identify decisions. Now you’re the safety expert, not me. In the next 30, 60, 90 days, what decisions can we make that will drive safety? In HR? We do the same thing. What decisions can we make and get clear. Number six, we got to weave it into our systems, budgeting system, talent system, huge. It can’t be a standalone event. It’s what I just said with the George Floyd communicate. I don’t disagree with communication, but I do think it’s got to be woven in. And finally, number seven, you got to monitor progress and track it. You got to keep track and learn and grow. That’s your learning organization.  

I’ll do it quickly. You got to have a leader. You got to have a business need. You got to have a direction. Number four, you got to mobilize commitment. You got to get people bought into it. Number five, you got to translate it to very precise decisions. Number six, you build systems around it. And number seven, you create learning that we grow. Those seven dimensions are not new. But in fact, when I’ve shared those with business leaders, they go, I’m paying you for this insight. I could have come up with those seven in ten minutes. And I said, why would it take you ten? It takes you two. But the discipline like a pile of checklist to do. That is what really helps. And I hope safety is about disciplines, it’s about protocols. And that’s the actionable protocol we’ve seen.  

I think the element you talked about touching the last two, weaving into the budgets so important because simple decisions around I need to reduce the cost. And this PNL, and I don’t think about what could go wrong. We saw it with a Boeing 737 Max not so long ago. In terms of decisions that are intended for the right reason to maybe reduce costs, improve profitability, can have the wrong impact if you don’t think about what could go wrong. Right. And then you talk about monitoring. One of your books touches on some of the metrics of the leading indicators. The leading indicators, to me is key because the Lagging indicator is interesting but not useful. It doesn’t tell you how your performance is going to go. You want to think about how am I adding value? How am I engaging employees around improving their safety practices, how we’re learning? These are all leading indicators that I think need to be embedded in the business and elevated.  

I totally agree. I love your first point there around, we often cut what looks simple to cut. For example, in the HR, we’ll cut training, and that makes sense. But remember, the training and development is the fuel that drives the engine and you run out of fuel and the engine doesn’t work. And I’m sure the same would be true in safety. There are investments that we have to make. What would be some lead indicators? Again, I’m spoiled because I get to learn from the Safety Guru what would be some lead indicators that you think people might want to track around safety?  

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There’s certain things around how many employees have been involved in improvements, right. So, you had a book many, many years ago on workout, which was really about creating boundaryless organization, really about employee involvement and engagement. Same concept. Just are we leveraging our employees to drive improvements? How many near misses are we seeing? Are we really learning? So, you talked about aviation at checklist. There’s about 60,000 year misses are reported by the FAA every year. And then your miss could be something benign, could be something a little bit more substantial. But people are comfortable raising issues, right. So, we forgot this item on the checklist might end up being a near miss, to use your earlier analogy. And so, an organization where people have the psychological safety and the social safety, you’re going to see a lot of those near miss reporting. People are going to look at it, they’ll stop work and say, what just happened? How do we make sure this doesn’t happen again? Just a few samples.  

I love that. And you use the word earlier. I love learning. Create a learning culture. And we’re using Airlines a lot. I fly quite a bit, or I used to fly quite a bit before the last couple of years. I always got mystified that when it rained, everything shut down. And I thought, these executives have some form of corporate Alzheimer’s. It’s rained before. Don’t you realize that? We’ve had rain and we can actually manage. And it feels like we’re not creating a learning agenda. And I think that’s really cool about near misses. So how do we learn? And hopefully nobody ever loses a life or a limb or something tragic. But how do we learn to avoid that? And anticipate. I really like that idea. And I see companies not doing that very often. The other thing I’ve seen in safety is to get the symbolism of safety there. I mean, you know this and I’m telling safety people obvious stuff, which shows I’m not a guru in safety. In a lot of manufacturing plants, every meeting begins with a safety discussion, right?  


Now let me throw something out to think out loud. Medtronic’s is a firm that makes stuff that you don’t want to have to use. It’s heart valves and things in your body, medical devices. They like to begin most of their meetings with a customer who comes in or patient and says, thank you, your valve saved my life. It would be interesting to try to elevate safety, not just here’s a safety minute, which is a great idea safety moment, but to talk about what that means a family member or somebody outside the company. To say, let me just tell you how important safety is. Let me give one example. As I’m thinking out loud, a number of years ago, GE, they still make aircraft engines. One of their engines went bad and the pilot was close to death. I mean, because the engine was bad, and you could hear his tension in his voice. And the plane crashed. He bailed out and was thankfully saved. What GE aircraft engine did was very clever. They brought him in to speak to every employee group and stood up and he said, let me share the last five minutes of the cockpit conversation where he is literally scared to death.  

You hear it, you hear the tension, you guys goofed. Something didn’t work and it almost cost me my life. When you talk about quality or TQM, whatever it is, it’s not abstract.  


The people who saw that in the Cincinnati plant many years ago said we’ve heard so many statistics about quality and we’ve had little lectures on quality tools. Nothing means much more than a pilot coming in and saying, what you did here almost cost me my life. Get on board now. He said it in a more positive way, of course. 


It would be fascinating to have some of that. 

And some organizations have done that, and they’ve done it in terms of either somebody who got injured or even reflections as to who do I stay safe for? Because there’s an element of personal choice. Right. So, internalizing that motivation. The other theme that I’ve seen work really well in the organizations is beyond the safety moment. Don’t go on a ladder with that. Whatever is start pushing some reflections. Tell me about a leader that really influenced your safety. What was unique about them? More open-ended questions to reflect on where I’ve seen good happen. Maybe where I’ve had some shortcuts that I’ve taken in the past, recognizing that I’m not perfect and talking about where I’ve made maybe the wrong choice or a good choice where I’ve been influenced by. 

I love it. And again, I said I was going to learn. Nobody can see this because we’re video. I’ve got a page of notes. I’ve got two notes. Strike me, then put a face on safety. Personalized.  

Yes, I really like that. 

The second is use reflections to anticipate. What did I do today that worked? What did I do that potentially increased risk? So, I like that. Put a face on safety and use reflection time to get ahead of what could go wrong. I love that anticipation is about risk and companies are doing risk audits all the time. Safety should be a part of that risk audit. And what are the reflections that I could anticipate where things might go wrong, by the way, I say that and I look at my office where I’m sitting right now and going, oh my gosh, look at all this. But again, we don’t want to overbear it. We don’t want it to be overbearing, but it goes back to where we started. Why do we do this? We do this so that an employee has a good experience, so that a customer investor have good experiences, and it begins to make a difference. 

I really like that you shared some great ideas on the strategic relationship. How do I elevate the conversations? I think the other element that I see with an HR that’s important is also the HR business partner model and how I’m aligning in HR with each line of business to understand their priorities and connecting with them to make sure that I’m adding value. Could you maybe share some insights there? Because I think that same approach works in corporate functions. In terms of how do I become that thinking partner for the operational leader? Maybe at a site?  

Let’s go back to the case I started with of somebody who left our program at Michigan and sat down with their business leader and said, the business partner starts with, what are we trying to accomplish as a business innovation, digital transformation, whatever the business is. Then the second question is, how can I help us make that happen? Notice it’s us, not you. How can I help us make that happen? And I then bring some of my tools to that agenda. This is what often happens. The business leader says here’s what I want. I want people to do this. I want people to do that safety. Here’s what I want. 


I think I can tell you more not just what you want, but also what you need. By the way, this is a broader issue. I think people are feeling a little bit entitled right now. They want to work at home. I don’t want to drive 401 to Toronto. That traffic is horrible. I’ve been there. I don’t want to drive on that road. I want to work up north. I want to work in wherever and just work remotely and get paid the same. Well, what you want is good business leader. What you want is good. But I also can tell you some things that you need. And I think the challenge is responding to what people want, but also guiding people on what they need. And that’s what we’re helping HR people do. For example, I want you to go hire people. I want you to train people. I want you to pay people. I want you to do career management with people. And the HR businessperson says, that’s great, that’s great. We’ll hire, we’ll train. All of that will do around people. But let me tell you what you need. You’ve got to build a culture. 

And if all you do is those events around talent, you’re not building the team. You’re not building the capability. So, what you want is to treat people well, don’t disagree. What you need is to turn people into a high performing team. And when you can make that happen, you’re going to have more success. I hope in safety, we don’t just say, here’s what you want. You want lower incidents; you want harnesses on ladders? No. Here’s what you also need. And I’m going to bring you some ideas that will help make that happen and then describe it in a very simple way. You said, I turned complexity into simplicity. Thank you for that. I hope so. To say, let me give you two or three things you might do. I’ll give an example of that. Sure. We worked with a person doing HR, and their business leader was traveling around the world visiting ten countries on tour. Those things happen, and it could be a plant visit, it could be site visits, whatever. The HR person went to the person coordinating the senior executive trip and said to that person, when she or he visits a plant, would you mind asking a couple of questions? 

How’s the culture here? How are you treating people? Almost didn’t matter.  


But when the business leader went out on that tour, they asked those questions. And by asking the questions, the business leader began to behave as if he was committed, or she was committed to the human resource issues. Safety, simple action. Get your business leader to begin to ask the safety questions, to begin to probe safety in their daily routines. How’s the business doing? Oh, it’s great. Well, our profits, our margins, our customer scores. How are we doing with some of the safety issues? What are you thinking? Just not a big deal. Just throw it in. Don’t say the world is going to stop. We’re now going to do 20 minutes on safety. No, we’re going to make a part of the routine. By the way, that business leader came back after visiting ten countries and said, wow, I got some great insights. So that’s kind of the idea. When you get people to behave as if they’re committed in a public way, they’ll become more committed. And when you get people to behave as if they’re committed to safety in a public way, they’ll probably become more committed to it.  

I would say many of the questions you shared on those tours are the exact same ones that somebody that’s committed on the safety side should also be asking how people treating you here when there’s an issue, how are we solving it? Things of that nature, asking for input is so critical, the safety component as well. But even the broader culture elements. 

One of my takeaways today is often when I think of safety and I have a narrow mindset, I’m broadening it. I think of physical safety. I’ve got psychological safety, and I really like that idea of social safety. Are we creating a social work setting where people have a safety to voice their opinions? I think that’s a critical piece and I love it. I know we’ve gone a long time. You are so good at this. I can see why you’re the safety guru. 

Thank you. Dave. You have so many great ideas, and I think the element I would also advocate is there is so much opportunity for better collaboration between the HR groups and the safety groups because both need to bring culture to the forefront to be able to drive impact. Both care about how the leaders show up because we know in both cases that has such an impact. And there’s opportunities for better collaboration because at the end of the day, when you talked about psychological safety and social safety, these are themes that are critically important for safety but also for HR, no question. 

We did some research what makes a great HR Department, and guess what? The structure of the Department didn’t matter very much. What mattered the most was the relationships between the HR people. Do we collaborate? Do we work well with each other? Do we have a positive, related the example I love, and this may or may not apply to safety? I assume it does. There’s a tool called Rasi, responsible, accountable, consultant, informed, and you go through it. I’ve been married 45 years. I’m old. Not once in 45 years have my wife and I sat down Sunday night and done a formal Rasp laundry, shopping, cooking, paying bills, caring for kids. You know what? We have a relationship. Last week she was swamped. She was really busy. So, here’s what I do, and you do the same thing. I went shopping, I Cook food, I did laundry because that was my relationship. This week I’m a little busy, and so she’s doing that. I mean, we’ve got to build relationships within safety, between safety, HR, it finances, and with us and the business leaders. And when those relationships work, the roles don’t matter as much. If you have clear roles but not a good relationship, you won’t get things done. 

So, I know we’ve gone over I really appreciate a sensitivity to safety and using safety so that our employees have a better experience so that our customers, investors, and communities have a better experience. 

Dave, thank you so much for coming. I think you brought some really great ideas from the HR space that really apply in the safety space. I encourage anyone to pick up any of your titles, your books, you publish, Leadership Code, Results, Bayless Leadership, the one on Workout. As the list goes on. You’ve got a lot of great insights that I think applies when the safety world. And I really encourage people to pick up, reflect and see what could work for them.  

You got it. Thank you so much. Thank you. 

Thank you, Dave. 

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Eric Michrowski:


Dave Ulrich is the Rensis Likert Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and a partner at the RBL Group ( a consulting firm focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value.  He has published over 200 articles and book chapters and over 30 books. He edited Human Resource Management 1990-1999, served on editorial board of 4 Journal and on the Board of Directors for Herman Miller (16 years), has spoken to large audiences in 90 countries; performed workshops for over half of the Fortune 200; coached successful business leaders, and is a Distinguished Fellow in the National Academy of Human Resources. He is known for continually learning, turning complex ideas into simple solutions, and creating real value to those he works with in three fields.

Organization.  With co-authors, he has influenced thinking about modern organizations (Reinventing the Organization) by empirically showing how organization delivers 4 times business results over talent (Victory Through Organization), defined organizations as bundles of capabilities (Organization Capability) and worked to delineate capabilities of talent management (Why of Work; Talent Accelerator), culture change (GE Workout), learning (Learning Organization Capability), and collaboration (Boundaryless Organization).   

Leadership.  With colleagues, he has also articulated the basics of effective leadership (Leadership Code and Results Based Leadership), connected leadership with customers (Leadership Brand), shown how leadership delivers market value (Why the Bottom Line Isn’t), shapes investor expectations with an ability to measure leadership (Leadership Capital Index), and synthesized ways to ensure that leadership aspirations turn into actions (Leadership Sustainability). 

Human Resources.  He and his colleagues have shaped the HR profession and he has been called the “father of modern HR” and “HR thought leader of the decade” by focusing on HR outcomes, governance, competencies, and practices (HR Champions; HR Value Added; HR Transformation; HR Competencies; HR Outside In).  He spearheaded a “gift” book on the future of HR (The Rise of HR) distributed to over 1,500,000 HR professionals), in which 70 thought leaders freely shared their insights.

Most recently, he posts new articles and insights each Tuesday on LinkedIn (over 150).

Honors include:


*One of top 30 People Analytics leaders by Perceptyx

*#6 (out of 200) thought leader in leadership by LeadersHum


*Lifetime Achievement Award from Institute of Management Studies

*#3 (out of 200) thought leader in 2021 by PeopleHum

* “Most Influential Global HR Leader, 2021” sponsored by PeopleFirst and HRD Forum

* “Honorary Member” of IFTDO (500,000-person training/development organization)


*Distinguished Fellow (one of 15 total), National Academy of Human Resources

*Michael R. Losey Excellence in Human Resource Research Award by SHRM

*Honorary Doctorate from Utah Valley University

*Initiated the Dave Ulrich Impact Award by the Academy of Management to honor contribution in HR


*Named one of the 100 top influencers in HR (in leadership & development category)

*Named one of the top 20 influential HR leaders

*Ranked #1 thought leader in HR by HRD Connect


Named one of the 20 most influential business professors in the world by top-business-degree (#13)


*Named to the Thinkers50 “Hall of Fame”, a recognition of lifetime achievement in influencing management

*Chartered Fellow of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand


Presidential lecture “in defense of organization” for Utah Valley University


*Named the most “influential HR thinker of the decade”

*Listed in Thinkers50 as management thought leader

*Commencement Speaker Southern Virginia University


*Ranked #1 speaker in Management/Business by

*Commencement speaker, University of Michigan Ross School of Business


*Lifetime Leadership Award from the Leadership Forum at Silver Bay

*Listed in Thinkers50 as a management thought leader


Lifetime Achievement Award from HR Magazine for being the “father of modern human resources”


 *Ranked #1 most influential international thought leader in HR by HR Magazine

*Listed in Thinkers50 as a management thought leader

*Ranked in Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Leadership Behavior


*Nobels Colloquia Prize for Leadership on Business and Economic Thinking

*Lifetime Fellowship in Australia Human Resources Institute (AHRI)

*Ranked #1 most influential international thought leader in HR by HR Magazine

*Kirk Englehardt Exemplary Business Ethics Award from Utah Valley University

*Why of Work (co-authored with Wendy Ulrich) was #1 best seller for Wall Street Journal and USA Today


*Listed in Thinkers 50 as a management thought leader

*Ranked #1 most influential person in HR by HR Magazine


*Ranked #1 most influential person in HR by HR Magazine


*Lifetime Achievement Award from American Society of Training and Development (ASTD)

*Honorary Doctorate from University of Abertey, at Dundee Scotland


*Ranked #1 most influential person in HR by HR Magazine in vote by influential HR thinkers

*Dyer Distinguished Alumni Award from Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Management


*Ranked #2 management guru by Executive Excellence

*Named by Fast Company as one of the 10 most innovative and creative thinkers of 2005

  • President, Canada Montreal Mission, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Ranked #1 management educator and guru by Business Week


*Lifetime achievement award from World Federation of Personnel Management

*Listed in Forbes as one of the “world’s top five” business coaches


*Society for Human Resource Management award for Professional Excellence for lifetime contributions

*Lifetime achievement (PRO) award from International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment, and Employment Management Association


*Warner W. Stockberger Lifetime Achievement Award from International Personnel Management Association

Dave and Wendy live in Alpine, Utah, have 3 children and 10 grandchildren.

Contact e-mail:  [email protected]