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Ethics & Safety


Some feel that greed is the principle driver of private enterprise; that Owners and Contractors are tempted to ignore seemingly costly safety programs and spend only that which secures compliance to OSHA, nothing more.


“Values and Ethics” in this day of repeated news in the media about top executive violation of ethics is a hot topic. Editorials fill the news, with each author rightly expressing outrage at those guilty of such insensitive and immoral acts. Yet these acts continue.


What is the problem?  Can this breech of ethics trend extend into employee safety?


It seems true in too many corporations today that “legalism” has found parity with “ethics.” All too often we hear the “yet to be proven guilty” speak of their ethical uprightness by defending themselves with the oft use phrase “every thing I did was legal; therefore I am an ethical person.”


If such is not a true statement what are the reasons to think otherwise?


Sometimes one can even hear what I call “self deification;” found in statements such as: “If I had thought it was wrong I would not have done it.”  Such a comment only reveals the paucity of ethics knowledge on the part of the speaker; in short they do not have a clue as to the definition and effective use of “ethics and values.”


We could call all this self justifying testimony a trend "to redefine ethics.”


It is now common for one to find in a corporation’s mission statement the phrase “safety is a core value.” This can be viewed as a positive trend, yet there remains shadows of doubt that suggest the use of the term “safety as a core value” will not change the hearts and minds of the employees.


This doubt has its basis in tradition. Can the use of a new term in fact change work execution traditions long in the making? Many argue nothing will change; yet there are those who are proving the validity of the "safety as a core value" concept.


In my view the following are good definitions of the words “Core Value.” “Core” means that “deep center of our being’ where one finds our “ingrained” values. “Values” means those principles used in decision making that give moral guidance to the individual. Thus to many, a “core value” is becoming known as that which will not be violated under any circumstance; a bedrock predetermined decision outcome can be predicted when “safety is a core value.”


That outcome will be demonstrated by the corporate leaders who say, “We will allow nothing to be more important than 'safety;' because 'safety' resides in our moral core. As such ‘safety’ is one of the descriptors we use to define ourselves. In view of this we cannot but be safe, for safe becomes our basic nature. When safety is our core value we cannot except by force of will be otherwise.”


Having said all the above, what then are we doing that is different than what which we have always done?


Do we now have a new safety ethic? The answer is “Some have it, some do not.”


The answer lies in the embracing of research proven safety leadership known as the Zero Injury Concept. 

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