What Safety Means to Me

by Safety Nerd on May 23, 2014

in Safety Videos

Why Safety Is Important to Me

safety Been lots of heated discussions and chest beating and on this site and Safety Forums lately which is really healthy but I thought that, just for a moment, we should all step back, take a deep breath, let the dust settle and take a moment to reconsider what safety is really all about. One of our counterparts – Sarah-Jane, The Safety Nerd, from Riskology Consulting sent me this video yesterday. It is so simple and raw yet sends a very powerful message. Made me remember how and why I got into this game. Please take a moment to watch and enjoy this short video and share it with anyone who you think may need a good dose of compassion and empathy.

Thanks S-J – you even made this tough old bastard shed a tear! 

You’ll also enjoy this little poster from S-J: https://safetyrisk.net/what-is-a-health-safety-consultant/ 

Safety Nerd

Owner and Principal Consultant at Riskology
I’ve been in safety my whole career. Well nearly my whole career, I started off as a secretary for a recruitment company, then dabbled in HR whilst stumbling onto safety, which I fell head over heels ….literally in love (I know safety nerd alert) with safety after reading the book Lessons from Longford by Anthony Hopkins at the age of 19 and haven’t looked back since. I had a few friends that had been permanently injured in their early 20s and my Dad nearly lost his foot in a workplace accident when I was a twinkle in his eye and the Lessons from Longford book made so much sense to me. I started my life in safety knee high to a grasshopper working for Aristocrat in the 90’s, a gaming machine company in Sydney where I introduced national safety handbooks, alerts, industry focus groups and decided this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; during this time I also headed off to Uni and completed an MBA specialising in industrial relations, the closest qualification at the time related to safety, since then there’s been an explosion of courses so I then got my teeth into a masters of safety. I then went onto a safety role at Coca Cola Amatil and tackled the logistics of ensuring multiple sites were compliant from call centres to sales to manufacturing workers. This was an interesting time when new manufacturing plants were opening and becoming fully automated, never a dull moment in the world of safety. I’m a bit of a car buff so then moved into a safety role at Inchcape, you know the guys that own Subaru. I was looking after the safety for 45 sites and came up with some great strategies to get them all confident and running with safety. After saving my employers in total over $1.5million in workers comp and setting up some great strategies I decided to jump ship and moved away from the big smoke for love. That was a couple of years ago now and that’s when Riskology was born. I love helping other businesses create safer workplaces helping them through the minefield of legislation with simple easy solutions with the end goal of making workplaces safer. The safety industry has changed significantly in recent years, with new legislation and tougher penalties. Small businesses are expected to comply just as much as large businesses, that’s where I come in, helping to bridge the gap and cut through the jargon. Safety doesn’t have to be the elephant in the room, good safety practices is good for business. Qualifications Master’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety Master’s degree in Business Industrial Relations Accredited Lead Auditor Graduate Certificate Health and Safety Management Systems Cert IV – Workplace Training, OHS, HR(and Dip), Secretarial
  • John


    well done. We need Safety to be from the heart to work. This means unfortunately, some of the message is lost to the BIG names in business who only consider and worry about statistics.

    Yes I too have lost friends and have been placed in toxic & confined spaces with a “just get in there”.

    I do not want to see our friends and families placed in these positions as the heartache you go through is at times unbearable.

    I do see a glimmer of hope as it was recently stated in Western Australia, that there are a number of the old “safety police” type advisors now finding it hard to get work as they cannot change to deliver the care as shown by yourself.

    Please hang in there. Safety is one profession where the emotions go from super high to dead low in a matter of minutes and we need special people to continue the cause.

    Sarah-Jane – well done and all the best in your career

  • Thanks Sarah

    Fantastic. I have rehabilitated a number of workers over the years and permenant disability destroys lives and lively-hoods. My focus with all my clients is prevention, prevention. Just trying to get that messsage across. Your message is powerful and I hope this will change mindsets that put safety last.

    Safety is First

    Faith Eeson

  • Great video. We are definitely impacted the most when it hits home. Too many people can say the same thing … we all know someone impacted by a preventable injury. Your friends know about enduring an injury “first hand” and so do I. In fact my injury was to my dominant hand, an injury which resulted in the amputation of 3 fingers and my thumb. Perspective tells me that I’m one of the lucky ones and I’m happy to say that because of my injury I’ve helped many organizations prevent injuries. Thanks for sharing. Check out my website at http://www.stopcuttingcorners.ca.


  • Susan Donnison

    Absolutely brilliant………would like to use this to start off my presentations!

  • Marty Maynard

    Sarah, from one nerd to another, many of us can’t specifically define why we entered the safety field, but in the majority of cases it is for similar reasons when we were a child or a young adult. Congratulations, you have helped a number of us take a step back and look at the reason we are in the position we hold.

  • Thank you everyone for your comments, particularly Phil for being so honest. I really didn’t think my video was worth sharing, but Dave convinced me that it was worth sharing so you should really be thanking Dave. With the huge amour of feedback I’ve had from all over the world regarding this video I think there is something missing in the safety industry, an understanding of what we as professionals and why we do it.

  • Simply A M A Z I N G!

    Thanks for sharing so much of yourself S-J. That was touching and sobering. We still have so much work to do.


  • Larry

    I have both received and made that dreaded call in the middle of the night. I have lost three very close relatives and some friends because of very easily corrected workplace incidents. It is this very reason that I am very dedicated to nesuring tha safety of workers in the workplace, and at home. Your video has reinforced my desire to continue. Thank you.

  • Dan Chojnacki

    Nice work Sarah, a creative way to achieve a result – I couldn’t look away!

    We can’t reinvent the wheel of safety, but you’ve reminded me, that we can work on the delivery.

    Keep it up, Dan

  • Sara Jane;

    Thanks for a such a beautiful piece. I live in Detroit, where I have lived for my entire life. It’s a gritty, hard working town known for making automobiles, but a lot of people don’t realize is we are an international city and a port on the Great Lakes and we are built on a salt mine. We have large docks, chemical plants, and hundreds of shops dedicated to keeping the global machine going. In short, tough dirty jobs? We got them, and with them we have injuries. Lots of injuries.

    Lately a lot of people have been giving me some a lot of grief about some things I said that didn’t talk in glowing terms about the job that safety professionals are doing. I think that it’s our responsibility to take a hard look at our culpability in the safety of the workplace. A lot of people question my motives, I seldom share what i am about to say. When i was 10 my brother’s best friend died when he poured hot liquid on snow while working for the railroad, he essentially steamed himself to death, he was 23. When I was 19 a childhood friend fell into a vat of acid in the shop he was working. He lay in bed for over a week while it continued to eat away at him before he died. He was 20. I was 25 the first time I lost a coworker. I was building seats and he was an electrician working on the line when after a supervisor flipped a switch and electrocuted him. By the time I was 35 i had lost 5 coworkers in individual fatalities. These were people I knew, albeit just to nod or say “hi”. Then I lost my father to mesothelioma it turns out the suppliers of the asbestos that killed him, knew it would happen, but decided to keep that a secret from his employer. My brother in law died last fall, full of so many toxins from 30 years of working on Zug Island, once listed as the dirtiest square mile on earth by the Guinnes Book of world records.

    I won’t bore you or the other readers with the many friends, co-workers, and relatives who were merely maimed or disabled through accidents in the workplace. What safety means to me, is that we as safety professionals need to wake up. The hard fought protections for workers are being systematically stripped away because people are increasingly convinced that safety isn’t something that we need to take seriously.

    Your simple message says more than I can scream in cyberspace, but I will continue yelling anyway.

  • Tom Wiggins


    love your work! Safety for us is more important than anything else, if you or your work mates can not promise you will be heading home after work especially on a construction site what is the point in going to work?

    You will see from our website our Zero Harm Policy this is implemented from our Receptionist in our Head offices through to sites across the globe!!

    Keep up the good work and if you need work as a Safety Adviser anywhere in the world we would like to have a Safety Nerd like you on our sites!

    Stay Safe

    Tom Wiggins

  • Mazano Maushe

    Hello Sarah. I hope i find you safe. You are really a safety nerd. Truly speaking, safety must be a core value in our work places and must also be the way of life for us to stay alive. Very commendable work Sarah. Keep up the good work you are doing. You are really saving quite a number of precious lives through the safety campaigns that you are undertaking. Well done the safety nerd, you are a life saver. Bravo.

  • Terry Kidd

    Safety for me starts and finishes with the workers. My goal every day is for every employee and contractor who work on our construction sites to go home as good, or better, than they arrived to start work. For the Project Managers and Engineers planning, checking and documentation is central to their roles in safety. For the Site Managers, Foremen and Supervisors checking, leading in safety and educating workers about safe work is central to their roles. I and my safety officers plan, check, follow up and educate.

    Show genuine concern for the workers welfare, learn their names and something of what motivates each individual, learn their jobs and how they fit into the bigger picture, spend as much time as you can among the workers, don’t be afraid to have conversations but don’t lecture, instead teach, coach, cajole and motivate …. there is no need to carry and weild a big stick.

    We must be doing something right, on our construction sites in Qld we have not had an LTI for 9 months, and no MTI for 5 months.

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