Watching The Super Bowl On The Radio

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.



A business owner from Missouri called me the other day to talk about his company’s safety program and the spate of recent workplace injuries that have befallen his organization. As we can all attest, most employee injuries are due to lack of attention, being in a hurry, and simply, not putting safety first. For example, here are some injuries I have heard about in the last month: a Grounds Maintenance employee was walking backward while using a string trimmer and tripped on a planter box border and fell, resulting in a pulled back muscle; an Enhancements employee did not verify a 10-foot ladder was properly secure thereby causing her to fall, landing on both feet flat-footed, producing a broken left leg and a shattered right ankle, and a Mow Crew Foreman not previewing the turf area prior to deploying his crew, which led to a Mow Crew Laborer stepping into a hole of an uncovered irrigation valve box that blew out his meniscus.

Careless, preventable, costly.

Continuing with our discussion on safety, I informed the owner that an increasing number of landscapers is proactively implementing stringent eye safety standards. Case in point, once thought of as a remnant of a bygone era, many landscapers have begun refurbishing their eye-wash stations. Also, more often than not, landscapers are now requiring their employees to wear legitimate eye protection as soon as they enter the yard, while in the yard, until they leave the yard. Office employees as well! Failure to comply with that zero-tolerance safety feature routinely leads to a written reprimand. One step further, best-in-class companies are leading the way by distributing and requiring ANSI-compliant eye protection to be worn by all field employees.

Say goodbye to Ray-Bans, Oakley, Vuarnet, and Foster Grant.

I know, I know. You’re too young to know who Foster Grant was.

With that principle in mind, I relayed a story to the owner that changed my life. At a recent safety seminar, I heard myriad owners, vendors, and safety coordinators share the same predictable safety stories to warn us to be more careful. (Kind of like my first paragraph to this posting.) But then, one heartfelt speaker from a roofing company took the podium.

As we all know, roofers think they are cool. Sometimes a little too cool. Okay, they always think they are too cool. But stay with me.

Thinking presciently, the owner of the roofing company instituted a safety policy stating that any employee who did not wear ANSI-specified safety glasses would not be allowed to work for that day, would be sent home without pay, and with continued defiance, would likely be suspended, and ultimately terminated.

In response, several of his roofers were particularly incensed, wailing publicly that ANSI eye protection was unnecessary, it damaged the company brand in that it diminished the essence of what a roofer represented, and that there had never had accident before and as such this policy should be withdrawn.

To his credit, the owner did not relent. The roofers ultimately complied.

Several days after the new policy was implemented, a roofer took a tumble on a roof, which somehow led the high-powered nail gun to be pointed at the disoriented roofer’s face, with him unconsciously pulling the trigger firing a nail full speed at his left eye. The nail pierced the roofer’s ANSI safety glasses.

Thankfully, the nail fell 1/16” from the roofer’s eye.

Once on the ground, the “wide-eyed” roofer poignantly said, “If I would have been wearing my normal sunglasses instead of these safety glasses, I would be watching this year’s Super Bowl on the radio!”

Eye wonder what a 50-yard line seat on the radio sounds like.

Eye’ll wait to “see” what type of impact this story has on you, your company, and your safety culture.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.