3 Principles of Safety You Should Know

Action movies are chock full of stunts that keep audiences on the edges of their seats and make workplace safety professionals cringe. The Burt Reynolds classic “Hooper” demonstrates three principles of safety you should embrace.

Principle 1. Older workers can be productive members of the workforce

Reynolds plays veteran Hollywood stuntman Sonny Hooper. Hooper has spent his life abusing his body on the job. Now in his twilight years, he should be kicking back on the beach.

Instead, he’s pushing himself to keep up with a young hotshot nicknamed The Kid.

Older workers like Hooper can be productive team members, but you have to remember a golden rule of aging: Things you did in your 20s don’t always come as easily when you’re in your 40s, 50s and 60s.

Of course, most of us don’t make a living hurling ourselves out of helicopters like Hooper does. Still, a few simple adjustments can help all of your employees, especially older employees, withstand the rigors of the workday.

Extra lighting and larger computer monitors make up for failing vision. Hand trucks and dollies make it easier to move heavy loads.

You should also look at your policies and procedures for opportunities to reduce the wear and tear on employees’ bodies.

For example, reduce the strain of repetitive motions by regularly rotating tasks. Encourage employees to leave their workstations periodically to stretch and refocus their energy.


Studies show that substance abusers are more likely to be involved in workplace accidents than their peers.

Principle 2. Substance abuse has no place in the workplace

 Hooper’s employer has no incentive to accommodate his aging body. The Kid is eager to take on any stunt Hooper declines.

 So, Hooper turns to prescription pain pills – lots of them. He has a substance abuse problem, and he is not alone.

About 75 percent of illicit drug users are employed, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Studies show that when compared with non–substance abusers, substance-abusing employees are more likely to be less productive, be involved in a workplace accident and file a workers’ compensation claim.

You can clean up the problem by combining a written zero tolerance for substance abuse policy with a drug-testing program that includes pre-employment, post-accident, for cause and random testing.

Before you launch a drug-testing program, however, consult an attorney to ensure you comply with all laws.

Principle 3. Transportation safety starts before you get in the car

Every action film worth its salt has a climax – a scene where buildings fall, cars explode and the heroes emerge bruised but victorious.

In “Hooper,” the climax happens when Reynolds and The Kid attempt to jump a car over a canyon.

Don’t worry; the car is powered by a rocket-propelled engine. Just before Hooper and The Kid make the jump, however, they discover the rocket propulsion doesn’t work. They should have inspected the car in advance.

In 2011, transportation incidents accounted for 40 percent of workplace fatalities across the country. You can keep your employees from becoming statistics by stressing that the road to safety starts before they get in the car.

Employees should check the brakes, horn, lights, turn signals, tire tread, windshield wipers, seat belts and other safety features. They should also make sure their vehicle has a cell phone, flashlight and flares or reflectors in case the car breaks down.

Of course, vehicle inspections take time. If you want employees to embrace the process, they have to trust that their safety is more important than getting somewhere fast.

Safety has to be a value that never gets compromised. It has to be as important as quality and production. When it reaches that point, employees will police themselves and each other.

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