Safety Awakening – “The Worst Place To Work”

August 29, 2014 No Comments

“The Worst Place To Work”

Over my 40-plus safety career I have worked for and with hundreds of manufacturing companies.  Generally speaking, the worst place for a safety professional to work is a small to medium-sized “private” company.

“Public” companies (those owned by stock holders and traded on an exchange) on the other hand are professionally managed by well-qualified executives.  They know of value of safety and how investments in safety training , equipment and manpower pay off in reduced insurance costs, higher moral and greater productivity.

Large public companies generally have:  terrific safety cultures, adequately staffed and funded EHS departments, and CEOs who are actively engaged in the EHS program.

Smaller privately held companies being run by the founder (or the ownership family) are often poor places for safety professionals to invest a career because:

  • the owner (having grown the company with few staff specialists) sees the safety professional as an expense
  • private owners often flaunt their authority by not wearing required PPE when in the plant
  • private owners are sometimes reluctant to invest in long-term safety solutions (e.g. ventilation and noise reduction) because there is not an immediate payback
  • at smaller private companies productivity is king (read short-cuts to prescribed safety procedures are accepted)
  • because PPE is cheaper, it is often preferred by private owners over more expensive (and more protective) engineering controls
  • many private owners do not want the government telling them how to run their business
    • sometimes the decision is made to consciously violate governmental safety and health regulations
    • the only companies I know of that have turned OSHA inspectors away and made them get a search warrant (bad idea) were privately owned companies

Given the choice, work for the largest publicly owned company that you can find.



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