Safety Awakening – “Don’t Dress For Success”

June 13, 2014 No Comments

“Don’t Dress For Success”

The old saying goes – “don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job that you want.”   While this might be good advice for other professions, when it comes to safety professionals, the opposite is true!

Early in my career, I was a consultant who wore a pressed dress shirts, polished shoes, and a tie.  When I went through a plant I looked very different from the hourly workers.  If I stopped to speak with workers I was given the cold shoulder and treated like an outsider.  I believe that my formal dress turned them off.

Then, in the 1990’s I went to work as a corporate safety manager for a series of different five companies in heavy industry.   Our workers were tough unionized older folks.  I knew they’d be a challenge to effectively communicate with.

Even though I was a manager and had a fancy office, I purposefully dressed like the workers (blue jeans, boots, and Carhartt shirts).  In time, and partially because of my informal attire, the workers began to accept me as a peer and really opened up to me.

If you want to be an effective safety professional, don’t “dress for success” – rather, dress as your workers do.



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