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As some of you know, I am in the process of putting the finishing touches on my second book. It is an expansion of my blog post Forget BBS There Is A Better Way I have been rightfully criticized for doing too much attacking and not enough constructive criticism. In fairness to me, apart from a handful of devoted readers my blog posts only go viral when I call people out on the stupid crap that they are doing in the name of worker safety. I honestly can’t wrap my brain around the kind of person who reads something just to puff out their chest and yell “foul!” in sanctimonious outrage.
I decided to call my second book, “Blood In My Pocket” and it will be much the same format as my first book, (i.e. a mixture of cleaned up blog posts, published magazine articles, and new material, but will be structured around the points made in Forget BBS, There’s A Better Way) (shameless plug, We plan to have it available for sale November 1st, 2018).
As I told people, even safety people recoiled in horror. They had never heard what I assumed was a widely known phrase in safety. The Blood In the Pocket Effect refers to the practice by injured workers, of seeking medical attention from their own physicians rather than the company medical department and therefore ruining the company’s perfect safety record.
The term itself describes a worker who cuts his hand, wraps it in a dirty shop rag and puts it in his pocket so that his supervisor can’t see the injury. In some companies concealing an injury is a fireable offense, but in most cases, no one goes looking too deeply for under-reporting. In fact, ask 15 safety guys if there is under-reporting at their facilities and at least 12 will swear that there are absolutely no underreporting.
Years ago, before joining my current employer, I went on a sales call and toured a facility where the ebullient kept telling me to watch my step, and to use the handrail (that was so rickety that I was sure if I put any weight against it I would fall to my death) and generally mother-hen me through the tour. I proudly told me about the children’s poster problem (I’ve asked it before and I will ask it again, what kind of sociopath introduces the idea that mommy and daddy could die at work to a six-year-old?) and boast in pride about all the useless and pointless activity the company did in the name of safety.
As we walked, he pointed to a woman who was doing a highly physically demanding job. She looked miserable and when she took her break she sat alone looking downtrodden. “She’s one of our frequent flyers,” my tour guide told me. “Frequent flyers?” I asked in genuine confusion. “Yeah, she’s been injured like six times, she had to have back surgery twice, and since the workers, all get a $250 bonus each quarter when she gets hurt it cost every other worker at least $250. One year it cost them all $1,000. The people here hate her and just wish she would quit.” I was aghast but said nothing. Like the death camp guard who knows right from wrong, I still thought I had a shot at a sale and wasn’t about to open my mouth. I carry that burden with me even today, almost two decades later.
I’ve heard numerous tales of companies who either use incentives inappropriately or push zero-injuries with such force that workers will openly tell workers headed to medical that they better not “screw up my bonus” or council new workers that if they get hurt they get better care from their own doctors than from the company doctors.
People were outraged when they heard about the child molestation scandals of the Catholic Church, and rightfully so. For the record, I am a practicing Catholic (you have to practice if you aren’t any good at something) and am neither a defender of the faith nor an anti-Catholic bigot. (Before any other faiths start congratulating themselves and assuring themselves that it can’t happen to them, take a look at your youth group leaders. and bible camp counselors and you won’t find many stones to throw.) The crime was bad enough, but the cover-up was even more heinous. How is this different than deceiving the government, the shareholders, the workers, and the people about the number of injuries there truly are at your company? If you turn a blind eye toward underreporting of injuries you are just as despicable as the bishops who quietly settle the case and move the pedophile to a different parish.
By now some of you are in a froth. You are grumbling aloud that not doing anything to stop underreporting is nowhere near as bad as allowing pedophiles access to children. Well, consider this: underreporting conceals risks. These risks tend to grow and compound until they manifest in an injury that can no longer be concealed—amputations, crippling injuries, and fatalities.
Blood in the pocket is blood on your hands.
Did you like this post? (I don’t really care if you LIKED as much as if it made you think) If so you will probably like my book which can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business (save yourself some money and order it from the Amazon.com in your country or at least on your continent) or on Barnes & Nobel.com. Did you hate this post? Did it offend you deeply? Maybe you should organize a book burning (minimum of 150 books) but be sure you are only burning my book, I don’t want you to go to a used book store and buy a bunch of cheap books and stack mine on top.
The book is a compilation of blog posts, guest blogs, magazine article (from around the world) and new material. Much of it is hard to find unless you know where to look. A second and third book has already been green-lighted by the publisher (expect fewer reprints and more new material).