Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn!

"Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!" We all recognize this famous quote from the 1939 movie “Gone with the Wind”. In fact, according to the American Film Institute, this is the most famous movie quote of all time. Movies are entertainment and escapism, but can also be factual or mimic our daily lives. As we all strive to improve workplace safety and injury prevention, perhaps we can learn a few things from our favorite movies. Here are a few of AFI’s top 100 quotes and how they might, or might not, help us with workplace safety.

  • “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” The Godfather, 1972. Marlon Brando had different intentions, but when it comes to hiring new personnel we should make sure that the offer comes in conjunction with a pre-placement physical. Hire only those who can safely fulfill the written job description, including the physical tasks.
  • "Go ahead, make my day.” Sudden Impact, 1983. Dirty Harry certainly made our day with his multiple films, but he had a rather abrupt style. Turn this around with a positive slant; make your employees feel cared about. Create a safety culture that includes positive feedback, progressive coaching, and rewards for positive safety performance. A “thank you” or a simple hand shake can certainly make someone’s day special.
  • “Show me the money!” Jerry Maguire, 1996. When it comes to workplace safety we all know that injuries are very expensive. Companies simply can’t afford the cost of injury. Consider how much it would cost to replace a valuable worker, provide additional training, pay overtime, incur increased insurance costs, or pay for damaged equipment. This is all in addition to the most critical cost; the human suffering that results from injury.
  • “Badges? We ain’t got no badges! We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!”  The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948. Hopefully you won’t run into Gold Hat (the bandit played by Alfonso Bedoya whose quote this is) at your workplace, but the unfortunate truth is that workplace violence is a safety concern for a lot of businesses. Review your security plan as you develop contingencies to deal with emergencies of all types.
  • “My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Forrest Gump, 1994. Well, the same can be said of workplace injuries unless you have a safety plan in place. Any plan includes initial employee training, written safety policies and procedures, on-going training, employee development, discipline policies, evaluation processes, and a Return-To-Work program. Make sure your company has these elements in place and is sending a consistent safety message. Otherwise you never know what you’re gonna get!
  • “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” Into the Dessert, 1933 (Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel).  The importance of housekeeping can’t be overstated. Thousands of injuries are caused each year by employee falls. Often poor housekeeping is partially to blame; slip and trip hazards can be prevalent at construction sites, manufacturing facilities, and even office environments. Pick up after yourselves and incorporate a periodic site inspection checklist procedure. Don’t make your employees work in a mess!
  • “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Cool Hand Luke, 1967.  Communication is vital to all businesses for a lot of reasons. But safety programs will never succeed without clear and concise direction from all levels. Expectations around safety must be communicated at all levels, from the newest employee to the CEO. This includes follow up and feedback. Without this in place your employees feel like they are on a long trip without a map. They will try their best, but the results are often less than desired, and they may end up hurting themselves or others.

The list of movie quotes is endless, just like workplace hazards. Keep a vigilant eye on each other, the site conditions, work procedures, and ongoing safety efforts. Foster a positive safety culture that will make people feel better about their workplace. Keep them safe and healthy so they can enjoy a movie tonight with their family!

Head over to the Safety Director for safety tips and resources that can have an immediate impact on your business climate.  This could reduce the chances you’ll hear, “Houston, we have a problem.” Apollo 13, 1995.