Safety Poems by Don Merrell

WARNING: Before you think these are simply awesome and start hanging them all over the office, have some critical thought on the agenda, trajectory and byproducts, despite the good intent. More on this here: When Only More Guilt Will Do

Safety Poems by Don Merrell

A collection of awesome poetry by Don Merrell from JR Simplot. We have published these with Don’s permission. (Email: )

He is happy for you to reproduce and use any of the poems in any, non commercial, way to promote safety and to share them with anyone who might find them of interest or use. His only request is that the poem stay intact and his name and contact information remain with the poem.

Think Twice

Though you might not work safely,

Out of fear for your life,

You should for the sake,

Of your children and wife.

For what do you think,

That the girl that you married,

Will do in the months,

Shortly after your buried.

When the moneys all gone,

And there’s bills still to pay,

And maybe just one more,

Small child on the way.

And what of your children,

Just think of how bad,

Life might be for them,

Growing up with no Dad!

With no one to take them,

On trips to the lake,

And no one to help,

When they’ve made a mistake.

So before taking chances,

That just might take your life,

First remember – Think Twice,

Of your children and wife.

Don Merrell

Are You Next ?

Was a quarter past eight,

When he walked through the gate,

To the time clock and punched in his card.

And he hoped that the boss,

And the luck of the toss,

Would not give him a job that was hard.

For he was out late,

And last night he felt great,

But this morning was paying the bill.

His eyes were shot red,

And the pain in his head,

Felt like it was trying to kill.

But the job that was his,

Was as bad as there is,

It sure sounded dusty and hot.

The chute in the dryer,

Is eat up by the fire ,

So replace it before it gets caught.

He was not one to shirk,

So he went straight to work,

Though he’d rather drink coffee and talk.

It was when he got there,

He found out with despair,

He did not have his safety lock.

It was too far to walk,

Just to get the darn lock,

So he thought that he’d just take the chance.

His presence was known,

And the main switch was thrown,

Or it had looked that way at a glance.

It was nine forty-three,

When he got the chute free,

And he sat where he was just to rest.

And how, we don’t know,

Or just why it was so,

Somehow the wrong button was pressed.

He was caught by surprise,

And started to rise,

But he slipped and fell flat on his back.

And he started to shout,

But the chute he’d cut out,

Came around and the world went all black.

They heard his last scream,

and shut down the machine,

To see what the noise was about.

He was buried in dirt,

And they knew he was hurt,

So they hurried and soon had him out.

His face was all red,

From a hole in his head,

And they didn’t see how he could last.

Though it didn’t look good,

They still did what they could,

To the  hospital they rushed him, and fast.

He woke up in bed,

With a bandaged up head,

His wife was there sitting nearby.

And her eyes were all red,

From the tears that she shed,

Through the days that they thought he might die.

For two days and a night,

It had been quite a fight,

And several times death had been near.

He’d be six months in bed,

So the doctor had said,

And he’d be out of work for a year.

There’s no need to explain,

The extent of his pain,

Or the burden it placed on his wife.

So let us just say,

He got careless one day,

The mistake almost cost him his life.

I just hope that we see,

And I mean you and me,

That it’s time, to stop acting like fools.

For such might be our fate,

The next time through the gate,

If we don’ t obey safety rules.

Don Merrell

For the Life of a Friend

What would I have done, to save my friends life,

Had I known he was going to die.

What would I give now, not to wake up at night,

To grieve, and to ask myself why?

The risk that he took, must not have seemed bad

No worse than some others he’d taken.

He thought he could save time, without getting hurt,

And this time, he was simply mistaken.

We cannot take back that horrible day,

Our chances were missed, and they’re gone.

Now, all we can do, is to learn from the loss,

And improve things, as we carry on.

For the Life of a Friend – are we willing to Change,

The way we expect things to be?

For the Level of Safety, on which lives depend,

Is determined by you, and by me.

The behaviors and risks, we accept as a group.

Set the bar, when decisions are made.

The rules and procedures don’t count near as much,

As the care, and concern that we’ve paid.

For the Life of a Friend – are we willing to Look,

At each job task, as if it were new?

To be sure all the hazards, are known, and controlled,

And that everyone knows what to do.

For the Life of a Friend – are we willing to Learn,

The policies, procedures, and rules?

For employee protection, and hazard correction,

They’re important, and valuable tools.

For the Life of a Friend – are we willing to Stop,

And say No, when the job is not right?

And work through the problems, to get them resolved.

Not ignored, or just moved out of sight.

For the Life of a Friend – are we willing to Speak,

When we see, someone else could get hurt?

To challenge the risk, the tools, or the job,

Or their simply, not being alert.

For the Life of a Friend – are we willing to Thank,

Those who do their job, Safely and Well?

If we want them to know, how important that is,

Then it’s them, that we most need to tell.

We cannot keep doing, what we’ve always done,

And expect things to change in the end.

We have to improve, or on some future date,

We will GrieveFor the Life of a Friend.

Don Merrell


I Chose to Look The Other Way

I could have saved a life that day,

But I chose to look the other way.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care,

I had the time, and I was there.

But I didn’t want to seem a fool,

Or argue over a safety rule.

I knew he’d done the job before,

If I spoke up, he might get sore.

The chances didn’t seem that bad,

I’d done the same, He knew I had.

So I shook my head and walked on by,

He knew the risks as well as I.

He took the chance, I closed an eye,

And with that act, I let him die.

I could have saved a life that day,

But I chose to look the other way.

Now every time I see his wife,

I’ll know, I should have saved his life.

That guilt is something I must bear,

But it isn’t something you need share.

If you see a risk that others take,

That puts their health or life at stake.

The question asked, or thing you say,

Could help them live another day.

If you see a risk and walk away,

Then hope you never have to say,

I could have saved a life that day,

But I chose, to look the other way.

Don Merrell

I Could Have Saved A Life That Day

I could have saved a life that day,

If I hadn’t looked the other way.

I saw the risk and should have called,

But I didn’t want to get involved.

I’d known the man for quite a while,

And never saw him laugh or smile.

He was a quiet, moody type,

Who always seemed to have a gripe.

I knew he was upset with work,

He considered his boss to be a jerk.

And often he was heard complain,

That there wasn’t a manager with half a brain.

And then one day he started in,

About his boss being after him.

And I heard him say  – If he had the nerve,

Someday they’d get what they deserve.

Some months before, they’d explained to us all,

Behaviors to watch for, and the people to call.

But I told myself, that it wasn’t that bad,

He was just spouting off, because he was mad.

His boss wasn’t there, when he came that day,

But she was there, and in his way.

With his anger and rage, I don’t know why,

But he thought that somebody had to die.

Now – my life will never be the same,

For I’ll always know that I’m to blame.

That she could be alive today,

If I hadn’t looked the other way.

If you see someone who’s so distraught,

That you question if they are safe or not.

Talk to someone, place a call,

Get help for them, and protect us all.

If you hesitate and look away,

Then hope you never have to say,

I could have saved a life that day,

But I chose to look the other way.

Don Merrell

It’s Up To Me

I want a workplace, that’s Injury Free,

And if that’s going to happen, then it’s up to me.

I can’t take for granted, that anyone,

Has done all the things, that I should have done.

I must, take the time, with each task I do,

To look for the hazards, and think the job through.

To check the procedures and follow them all,

And reject taking shortcuts, no matter how small.

When I walk through the workplace, I must stay alert

To watch for those things, that could get people hurt.

And should I see a hazard, I won’t rest until,

I’ve made the thing safe, or I know someone will.

I must question each unsafe behavior I see,

And encourage all others, to do that for me.

I will always give safety, the best I can do,

And expect that performance of all others too.

I must always remember to let people see,

That their safe behavior, is important to me.

Every act is important, no matter how small,

For the safety of one, is the safety of all.

We can all have a workplace that’s injury free,

If we, each one, Commit to Making It Be,

If we all do our part, and each of us see,

If It’s Going to Happen, – Then It’s Up To Me.

Don Merrell

Life Is for Living

If each day you’d return,

To your children and wife.

To the ones you should value,

The most in your life.

You should always remember,

With each risk that you take.

It’s not only your life,

And your health that’s at stake.

Consider the burden

You’d place on your wife.

If you should get killed,

Or crippled for life.

But — Maybe you’re lucky,

Or fate’s on your side.

You might be the reason,

A friend of yours died.

And stop and just think,

For you might be the one.

That gets buried tomorrow,

For something he’s done.

It’s quite easy to say,

It won’t happen to me.

But you’ll find the statistics,

In no way agree.

If we’re taking chances,

Then we’re acting like fools.

For we’re risking To Much,

When we break SAFETY RULES!

by  Don  Merrell

Recycle for Life

The bounties of nature are there for our use,

But we’ve treated them poorly – without good excuse.

We abused it, misused it, and threw it away,

Now the bills coming due – and we’ll all have to pay.

We can chose to ignore it, and put off the debt,

Pass it on down to those not born yet.

But the debts getting bigger and bigger each year,

And they may not be able to pay it – I fear.

With each of us acting with reasonable care,

We can use what we need – and still leave some to spare.

We can start on the process of setting things straight,

Clean up our environment – Before It’s Too Late.

Remember ” Recycle”, let that resource keep living,

It’s a much better life to our kids we’ll be giving.

If we keep on abusing the Earth – We should know,

When it won’t support life – ‘ We’ve got no place to go’

Don Merrell

The Electrical Monkey

We all laugh at monkeys,

And things that they do

As they frolic around

In their cage at the zoo.

But a monkey that’s loose

In electrical gear

Is a thing to be treated

With out and out fear.

For some monkeys have tails

Where some monkeys don’t

And some see the dangers

Where some monkeys won’t.

And monkeys that play

With electrical wires

Have often been known

To cause terrible fires.

A monkey once though

That high voltage was “neat”

Now all we have left

Is some burned monkey meat.

So stay out of the wires

And the switch boxes too.

Don’t let your paws

Make a monkey of you.

Don Merrell

Dear Teacher

Thank you for teaching the children,

And guiding their studies each day.

Though I know it sometimes seems hopeless,

And they keep putting walls in your way.

Each bit of knowledge you give them,

Builds a bridge they may cross all their life.

A bridge to a brighter tomorrow,

Over Prejudice, Hunger and Strife.

As the kids are the hope of tomorrow,

You shape where tomorrow will lead.

Building solid foundations of knowledge,

And the skills that you know they will need.

You may think that your work is un-noticed,

But it shows in it’s own special way.

In the bright shinning eyes of the children,

You are working with day after day.

As a parent I’d like to say thank you.

I appreciate all that you do.

For all of the children – God bless them,

And God bless good teachers like you!

Don Merrell

Honors For a Fallen Warrior

To honor the brave and fallen dead,

The flags at half staff fly.

The mourners stand with hand on heart,

As they watch the hearse go by.

Another precious soul is gone,

With life works left undone.

With terrible cost and glories lost,

For the race they might have run.

And yet the choice they made was theirs.

They knew that risk was there.

They chose to go into harm’s way,

Because they chose to care.

They knew that freedom is not free,

That battles must be won.

And they felt that they were needed,

To assure the job was done.

And so we grieve and honor them,

For the sacrifice they made.

And cherish more the freedoms,

For which their life was paid.

Don Merrell

J.R. Simplot Co.

Thank You – To the Red Cross

How can we express our thanks,

For this precious gift you give.

For your special act of kindness,

Which may allow someone to live.

Your sharing the bond of living,

With another soul in need.

Is an act of human kindness,

That deserves great thanks indeed.

We know that it’s not always easy,

To find the time to spare.

But another might live tomorrow,

Because you took time to care.

So we would like to say thank you,

And we really believe it’s true,

The world is a better place today,

Because of good people like you.

-Don Merrell-

For the American Red Cross

Barry Spud

Barry Spud

Safety Crusader, Zero Harm Zealot and Compliance Controller at Everything Safety
Barry Spud

Latest posts by Barry Spud (see all)

Barry Spud
What is a Safety Spud? Lets look at a few more spud head activities in risk and safety: 1. Coming on to site saying there is a safety issue when in fact there’s no such thing, it’s a political issue. 2. ‘Falling apart’ when people make choices that we think are stupid because they won’t do as we ‘tell’ them. Then we put on the angry face and think that overpowering others creates ownership. 3. Putting on the zero harm face, presenting statistics, knowing it has nothing to do with culture, risk or safety. 4. Putting on the superman (hazardman) suit and pretending to be the saviour of everything, this is good spud head cynic stuff. 5. Thinking that everyone else is a spud head except me. 6. Thinking there’s such a thing as ‘common’ sense and using such mythology to blame and label others. 7. Accepting safety policies and processes that dehumanize others. 8. Blaming, ego-seeking, grandstanding and territory protecting behind the mask of safety. 9. Thinking that risk and safety is simple when in fact it is a wicked problem. Denying complexity and putting your spud head in the sand. 10. Continually repeating the nonsense language and discourse of risk aversion that misdirect people about risk, safety, learning and imagination.

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