Knowing something—and understanding it—are not the same thing.

—Charles Kettering

Alive and Well is a practical book written for safety leaders in industry and business the world over. It’s intended to answer the question every leader should ask: to lead safety well, what do I do, and how do I do that? That we will do, but after we first answer the single most important question every leader must ask: Why is safety the most important goal of every leader in business?

In the twenty‐first‐century business world it’s just about impossible to find a leader from the CEO down to a newly promoted front‐line supervisor who doesn’t know that safety is important. Everybody knows that, but that isn’t the question we’re looking for the answer. The question is why.

The answer to the question “Why is safety that important?” seems rather obvious. No leader would ever want to see someone working under his or her supervision get hurt. If that’s not enough, leaders have been told by their leaders, right up to the top of the company, that safety is a key part of their job duties and performance measures. Getting good safety performance is a requirement for a successful career.

Moreover, safety is no longer just “important”. In many organizations, safety is seen as a core value. You can find that in a mission statement and on a list of company values posted on the walls of conference rooms. You might think that should be more than enough to settle the issue once ...

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