Safety and Training Shouldn’t Be Treated Like Luxuries.

Dublin 285

This picture has nothing to do with the content of this article. I took this in Dublin after my speech last week.

by Phil La Duke

Okay, my weekly blog post is late again. C’est la vie.  My trusty laptop got it’s screen smashed and I have been left hunting for my spare a newer, smaller and wholly less satisfying version of my mac power book.  Plus I went to Dublin for the better part of a week to speak at the Business Ireland Techconnect Live Conference.  There were some technical glitches but I can assure you that I will have a link to a video of the speech up soon.

This week I was thinking about politics; it’s hard not too when you spent the better part of the week apologizing or at very least looking sheepishly at someone asking about the latest gaffe the world’s favorite politician has made. It got me thinking back to the Clinton years.  This isn’t an endorsement of either Bill or Hillary, just eight glorious years when I had a good job with good security, I was optimistic about my future and I didn’t have to worry about my job.  You see, I live in metropolitan Detroit, where, as most of you know, cars are king.  The problem with being part of the Detroit economy is we are one of the first areas to be effected by an economic downturn and the hardest hit.  We feel the pain before the rest of the world, but we also feel the recovery.

I was talking to friend who works making the king-shit (I’m too tired to worry about those of you who are going to be offended by a bit of course language…drop me an email to complain and I will send you a response that will have you looking up words for the next 18 months and will make you blush every time you think of their definitions) of luxury items: hot air balloons. As we talked I realized that Safety (and training too for that matter)are treated like corporate luxury items; things that you spend money on if you have it, but the first thing you cut out of your budget when you tighten your proverbial belt.

I have been harping on and on about the fact that the best way to ensure a safe workplace is to have a well trained workforce for months. Training always draws the short end of the stick: in boom times we’re too busy to do training correctly; we can’t spare our crew and lose four hours of production and in bust times we don’t have the money to train our workers and we send a good share of them packing.  We either too busy to invest or too poor to invest.  It’s the same deal with safety.  We either don’t have the money to do things right or we don’t have the time.

The problem is that like it or not both training and safety are discretionary expenditures. The people holding the purse strings know that even if we have to spend money on training/safety, we don’t have to do it right now.  Yes of course there are exceptions, especially in situations where there is a regulation that is driving the training, but even then I have been asked point blank, “what is the financial penalty for not doing this assuming we get caught?”

I can no longer see safety and training as anything but intrinsically linked and I am deeply troubled that both are seen as expendable budget dross. Just because something is discretionary in nature doesn’t make it less essential.  Food is technically a discretionary cost but even in lean times I manage to find funds to feed my cram into my maw and feed my ever expanding ample belly.  When we cut funding to safety and training because we haven’t had a lot of injuries it’s like cutting your food budget because you aren’t hungry at the moment.