Positive safety programs preserve a few good men

In the climactic scene of the movie “A Few Good Men” Col. Nathan Jessep and defense lawyer Daniel Kaffee are sparring over the military chain of command when Jessep barks, “We follow orders, son. We follow orders or people die. It’s that simple. Are we clear?” “Yes sir,” Kaffee replies.


In the climactic scene of the movie “A Few Good Men” Col. Nathan Jessep and defense lawyer Daniel Kaffee are sparring over the military chain of command when Jessep barks, “We follow orders, son. We follow orders or people die. It’s that simple. Are we clear?”

“Yes sir,” Kaffee replies.

“Are we clear?”


Jessep may have lost his way as a soldier, but he might have made a good safety officer in a manufacturing plant. In safety management, following the rules saves lives and limbs. It is a simple concept, but profound in its meaning. It is a crystal clear message: safety can never be compromised.

We often talk about safety in human terms, because those are the most compelling. When we discuss trapped coal miners or workers who are injured or killed on the job, we focus on the safety failures. We rush to learn what went wrong, so we can prevent it from happening again.

The true measure of an effective safety program, as we discuss in this month’s cover story, should be on what is preserved. Safety is, after all, a positive term. Safety is a state we try to maintain. It is only when things are unsafe that we worry.

Safe workplaces allow all employees to come to work with the confidence that they will leave each day with the ability to enjoy life outside of work.

What we also are learning is that safety carried over to life outside of work %%MDASSML%% both for the employee and his family %%MDASSML%% is a positive message. Companies that allow workers to take safety products home for their personal use send a message that worker safety is a 24/7 concern of the company.

This emphasis on off-the-job safety is gaining momentum. When a company offers health and wellness programs for families and defensive driving courses, it shows that the employee and his family are valued on a personal level. Companies that make safety a core principle have better employee morale, because it shows their company cares about the people as much as the bottom line.

There are bottom line considerations as well: lower absenteeism, higher productivity, lower training costs for replacement workers and the biggest of all, lower workers’ compensation costs. A true safety program isn’t about compliance to regulations as much as it is recognition of the value of our employees as people.

Safety is a positive state of mind. It has a positive impact on employees, and on the business as a whole. It is one positive thing we can do for our workers. Today, more than ever, we cannot afford to lose a few good men.

Are we clear?

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
February 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
Jan/Feb 2018
Welding ergonomics, 2017 Salary Survey, and surge protection
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards
December 2017
PID controllers, Solar-powered SCADA, Using 80 GHz radar sensors

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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