Okay, I’ll hang with it

By Phil La Duke

Immense thanks to all of you who have publically and privately offered your encouragement and support for my work. Readers from all over the world have written assuring me that my work is valuable, important, and useful. So with that in mind, I will continue posting and I will continue doing so in my signature brash, antagonistic, and provocative style.

My detractors have been strangely silent on the topic, but let me take a moment to address them. It seems that more than a few persons of note read my blog and cluck tongues because I’m not polite. First of all, etiquette differs from culture to culture and one man’s rudeness is another’s unvarnished truth.  The truth is sometimes ugly, mean, and disconcerting but as unpleasant as it can sometimes be, the unsweetened truth is essential not only to safety but to sustainability.  Sometimes we have to decry the emperor as naked, and tell people their baby’s ugly (figuratively speaking).

Having a polite conversation about safety (or the lack there of) is like having a polite conversation about Nazis in 1936 Munich; as long as simpletons persist in advocating for practices that take companies’ money and return no discernible value I will call them out. Could I do so in a softer, gentler way? Of course, but what good does that do. Social networking and political correctness has created an environment where absolute facts are put to a vote and if enough people don’t like the truth its simply voted down.  We live in a world where Wikipediots can post deranged harrangings and it is given the same credence of those who have researched topics carefully and methodically.  Peer-reviewed articles are given the same weight and credibility as self-published rantings of paranoid numbskulls. If I tell someone his or her opinion, methodology, or actions are idiotic it’s because I have researched the topic and believe them to be so.  Is it nice? Maybe not.  But it does create a visceral response in them that causes them to reexamine their position in a new light and try (usually in vain) to defend it. Often I goad people into revealing their true selves and let the virtual jury of their peers decide for themselves.  We aren’t selling candy, we are working to make the workplace safer and more efficient.  We save lives, reduce human suffering, and create more sustainable and pleasant places to work.  We can’t afford to mince words and wring our hands because someone might not like what we have to say.

If a company is lead astray by some slick talking snake oil salesman and spends money and effort on a schlocky non-solution when they could use those resources on reducing risk I will always speak my mind. So to all you detractors, especially to those of you who would stab me in the back: bring it on. I will make a living just fine.

Anyone who avoids speaking there mind about such an important issue because they worry that they may offend a potential customer is beyond cowardly.  Besides, what value does one provide a customer by telling them only what they want to hear? And this applies not just to me, or other safety bloggers, but to safety vendors and most especially to the safety professionals who work within an organization.  I get it, to some extent we worry for a living, but if we only pander to what the senior leadership wants to hear we are worse than cowards, we are cowards who risk the lives of those they are charged with protecting.

Yes men have no business in safety. Not in selling it; not in consulting with companies about it; and not in working in the internal safety function.

I used to say, “if you don’t like what I write, don’t read it” but now I think I was wrong in that.  Instead, if you don’t like what I write, read it and ask yourself what is it that I am saying that is so upsetting or threatening to you? Ponder it.  Rebut me, if you can, but don’t disengage from the debate and don’t tell me to shut up, or to change my style.

One of the greatest compliments paid to me is when a reader comments on a post with the qualification, “I don’t always agree with Phil but…” I hope no one out there agrees with me 100% of the time—I don’t even agree with some of the things I wrote years ago.  A true professional questions his or her most deeply held beliefs and asks if they are still true and relevant, and when they are not, he or she should be mature enough to change his or her position.

I’m not looking for adulation, and I am not looking to boost my readership (I like to think that while my readership may not be as broad as some of the other safety blogs out there my readership is a more enlightened breed, a cut above the rabble; and people who truly enjoy out of the box thinking. I don’t make any money from blogging nor will I. I refuse to accept any payment for my writing because then I would have to start worrying about what you, my readers find palatable, which might compromise my message. So if you find this valuable let it be known. Don’t be afraid to click the “like” button and rate the posts (that elevates the rating on WordPress and increases traffic volume). Write to your group managers on LinkedIn and tell them how you feel about them blocking my posts if they don’t agree with them.  I will fight the good fight, but all it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing. Click the button at the end of the articles to share them—on Facebook, in LinkedIn discussion groups, or to emails to colleagues.  If the debate is important to you, then you have to help promulgate it.  If I promote it I am just a self-promoting windbag who likes to see his name in print, but if you promote it we might actually start to see real positive change in safety (which is desperately needed).  I can’t do it alone.

As long as I can ignore what polite society thinks I can remain the voice crying out in the blogosphere. Perhaps I take myself too seriously and give myself too much credit (I’m convinced such is the case.)

So look for me to continue slogging out posts, doing my best to foment debate on these crucial issues.

Again, thanks to all who supported me through this brief moment of self doubt.