Safety By Any Other Name

Safety By Any Other Name – What is Safety

I pondered the “What is Safety” question a few weeks ago and came up with this: What is safety?

You might also enjoy: Ode To The Safety Professional

In his latest blog Phil LaDuke discusses the facts and perceptions of role of the “Safety Person”

Phil says:

As I sat down to hammer out this week’s blog post it struck me, the word "safety" doesn’t really describe what we do. What’s in a name? Plenty, and if you ask me (you didn’t) describing what the average EHS professional does as "safety" sends not only the wrong message but creates an inaccurate and unrealistic expectation of what the "safety" professional does (and can do) for the organization. In this week’s blog post I explore this topic. I hope you will give it a read and tell me what you think. I always enjoy hearing from you, if you don’t feel the same way please let me know and I will remove you from my list with no hard feelings.

See the full blog post here

Safety By Any Other Name

By Phil La Duke

For the record, I’m against euphemisms; I believe masking the inadequacies or social stigma of one state by calling it something else is wrong-headed and pathetic.  I’ve been called a lot of things, but politically correct isn’t one of them.  On other hand, I’ve always been in favor of calling things as I see them and I do firmly believe that words matter.  Many words carry an emotional charge to which people react viscerally, without really understanding why they are reacting so strongly or violently to something that has been written or said to them.

In my blog and in my articles for publication I use words to incite, to prove points, to shock, and hopefully to stimulate debate. The one word I have been struggling with lately is “safety” and I think it’s time we stop using it to describe our profession.

We aren’t, after all, safety professionals.  Safety, as defined by is “the state of being safe; freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss.” This is clearly not what we are expected to do, and in my opinion the state of being safe, i.e. being free from all risk of injury, danger, or loss is impossible.  Life carries with it at least some (often much) risk.  We as professionals cannot and will not ever succeed in eliminating risk.

Phil LaDuke

Phil LaDuke

Principle and Partner at ERM
Phil LaDuke
Phil La Duke is a principle and partner in Environmental Resources Management (ERM) a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, and social consulting services. With over 140 offices in 40 countries and nearly 6,000 top professionals, ERM can help you wherever you find yourself doing business. At ERM we are committed to providing a service that is consistent, professional, and of the highest quality to create value for our clients. Over the past five years we have worked for more than 50% of the Global Fortune 500 delivering innovative solutions for business and selected government clients helping them understand and manage the sustainability challenges that the world is increasingly facing. Phil works primarily in the Performance and Assurance practice at ERM; a speaker, author, consultant, trainer, provocateur…Phil La Duke wears many hats. As an expert in safety, training, organizational development, and culture change, Phil and ERM can help you motivate your workforce, conduct safety performance assessments, help you to build robust training infrastructures, craft interventions to improve how your work place values safety, provide insights to your executive staff, and craft and execute business solutions. If you’re interested in what Phil La Duke and ERM can do for you, or if you would like to inquire about employment opportunites at ERM, contact Phil at

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