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Video Q&A - Where are our safety heroes?

By Bryan McWhorter | Last updated: November 2, 2021

Hi, Bryan McWhorter here with Safeopedia.

We want to recognize these individuals and help highlight them as the role models they are. We want to encourage others to step up and lead the charge when it comes to safety. Often we'll talk about a safety culture, and culture really is the values, beliefs, and behaviors of a group of individuals in that environment.

The word "hero" actually comes from the Greek word for protector. A hero is a protector of others. So, in your culture do you have people that are setting that pattern of showing that co-workers matter, that you are part of a family and a team and we want to work safely? We want to take care of those that work with us.


Those individuals are really important for influencing a culture, and again, we really want to recognize them. I've been very lucky in my life working where I've had a lot of safety heroes that I've been able to visit with, and that have had a profound influence on me. I think of two individuals when I was with Philips Lighting that came out of our headquarters in the Netherlands, named Pete and Mark. Pete was a gas safety expert, and Mark's expertise was in electrical safety.

But they were both very warm, caring individuals that had a strong influence on me and our environment. I would definitely call them safety heroes. They were both very warm and personable, and when you talked to them you just felt like you had their full attention and they cared about you as an individual.

If we're going to drive safety in any environment, our leaders have to show that they value us on three levels: That they care about us as individuals, that's emotional safety. That they want to protect our jobs, that they value us as employees or team members, that's professional safety. The reason is we will take risks to protect ourselves emotionally; we don't want to get our butts chewed, so to speak. We'll work hard and maybe take risks to protect that emotional well-being, and we'll definitely take risks to protect our jobs.

If we're falling behind in a production environment maybe we'll work on the machine with guards off, or doing things on the fly that we really should be shut down for. But we want to show that we're the type of employee that can kind of get 'er done. These leaders have to really show that they value us as people; they care about us. When you know someone cares about you and they value you, then you know that they truly do want you to work safe. That's what these heroes do, they show that they really care, and we create an environment where we have a team member type influence.

I remember one of the things that had a true impact on me. I was walking through the factory once with Mark and Pete, and we noticed an employee that was working on a piece of equipment with the guard off—with it running. I can't remember which one of them leaned over to me and basically asked, "Bryan, if that was one of your adult children, a son or daughter doing that job, would you feel comfortable—would you allow him to do it?" And I of course said no, and I go, "Well, if we wouldn't let a loved one do it, let's not let anyone do it." And we use that as our moral safety compass and that phrase alone really helped to drive safety in our environment and really influence our safety culture.

That's what leaders and heroes do, they influence others, they influence the behavior of others. So again for a safety culture what we need is people that value safety. What we would like for you to do is let us know about those safety heroes that are influencing your culture, that are helping keep people safe. Again, they are true heroes by the definition of the word; they are a protector.

Let us know who your heroes are. Who are the ones that are driving safety in your work environment? Let's recognize them for the role models they are, and help encourage others to step up and lead the charge when it comes to safety.

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Safety Superheroes

Written by Bryan McWhorter | Lead Safety Advisor, Author, Writer, Speaker

Profile Picture of Bryan McWhorter

Bryan McWhorter is a safety professional with eight years of experience in driving and teaching safety. Bryan gained his knowledge and experience as the safety officer and Senior Trainer for Philips Lighting. Philips is a strong health and well-being company that promotes a safety first culture.

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