Safety Sunday: A New Year and Safety Third

First off, let me wish you all a Happy New Year. This is generally the time of year that many look back fondly (or not so fondly) on the past year, make resolutions, and move forward to making the coming new-year a safe and better one. In this vein, I would like to talk about a topic that has been on my radar screen for a while & that revolves around an individual’s personal responsibility for their own safety.

While we have written articles on wearing safety glasses, hearing protection, selecting and cleaning respirators, they won’t do you any good if you don’t wear them. Personally as I have alluded to in prior articles, I have lucked out & still have great vision, but have damaged my hearing. As mentioned in an article listed below, just in the US alone, employers spend over a Billion dollars a year of safety gear, training, etc… Unfortunately, every year, we still have issues that could have been prevented if only the employee would have actually been wearing the gear provided.

Safety Third?

Oh how I love that phrase and how it came about. Approximately 13 months ago, Mike Rowe did a recap show that was entitled Safety Third & the outcry from some was huge. How dare you say safety is not first, how can you trivialize safety like that, etc… For others, well they actually stopped and thought about it for a few minutes and realized he was right (or at least made some good points) when he stated four main issues, namely; “Compulsory programs are responsible for saving lives AND creating complacency.” “Safety First” discourages personal responsibility, is just not true, and has become a platitude.

In closing out this week’s article, I really do encourage you to take a few minutes to check out the articles below on the mikeroweWORKS site about this subject as Mike has worded it probably far better than I ever could. (ok and a few funny videos – hey it’s Mike, what do you expect). I also encourage you to take a few minutes and consider how your safety is your personal responsibility and those it would affect if something were to happen. With that here is to a safe new year for everyone.

Additional Info & Web Sites

Tool Box Talk – brought to you by mikeroweWORKS
Safety… do I hear 1? 2? 3?
Safety Third – Huh??
A One Size Safety Approach Doesn’t Fit All or Make You Safer
Despite Magnificent Evolution, YOUR Safety Cannot be Your Employer’s Top Priority
HTRC Article: Want to learn what it takes to get into the trades

  • Anonymous


    Great summary and concluding article for your Safety Sunday series. I totally agree with your sentiment about personal responsibility being the corner stone of safety. It’s unfortunate that there is such a widespread absence of that sense of personal responsibility, not only in the trades, but in everyday life for most of us. Hopefully, over time, things will change as people become more aware of these things. The Mike Rowe links and content is spot-on, as well. Cheers.


    • SLS Construction

      Thanks John for the comments. As a quick FYI – this isn’t the end of the series, I still have quite a few more articles in the pipeline.
      As for the personal responsibility, unfortunately that has been declining for many years, and it appears to only be getting worse. Part of it (as regards to safety) is organizations like OSHA pushing everything on the employer, saying you are fully responsible while other organizations tie our hands by stating you can’t do this, ask this, require this, etc… Here’s hoping for some real change

  • Anonymous


    I sincerely apologize. I am not quite sure how I got that impression; probably my old brain is just misfiring again. But anyway, that said, I am glad that I was mistaken. It’s a great series, and I’m looking forward to seeing more articles.

    I am going to bookmark both this series and your RRP series on my homepage, because I think both are tremendously useful resources to have around.

    Have a good one, bud.


    • SLS Construction

      No worries John, and mucho thanks. Now if I can just get caught up with the Blog roll & other pages

  • Jeff Williams

    Mike had a TED talk a few years ago on the things he got wrong on Dirty Jobs. He mentions Safety 3rd around the 13 minute mark but the whole video is good.

    • SLS Construction

      Wow & thanks Jeff – great video and find

  • James Dibben

    I just watched that TED talk yesterday. It is sooooo good!

    Personal responsibility is in horrible shape in our country right now. Everything is someone else’s fault and someone else’s responsibility.

    The ‘buck’ is starting to look a little ragged.