Texas Tech University
Scholarly Messenger
What Safety Month Means to Me
By Cliff Harris

What is Safety Month? I believe it is a time we can reflect on what we have done for the last eleven months. If you are honest with yourself, you know you have taken risks over the past 11 months, without incident–correct? Not only at work, but at home as well. But as time has taught us, risk will catch up to you at some time or another.

Here at Texas Tech, we all have access to training materials that can—and do—help prevent accidents. We as humans have the perception that “IT CAN’T HAPPEN TO ME”. Guess what? It does happen to you, and to me, when we take chances with our lives and our co-workers’ lives.

There is an old saying: you do not know how much you use something until you lose it. Such as eyes, hands, feet, hearing, speech, just to name a few. Most of us think, “If I do have an accident, I will get well and continue on.” In most cases, that is correct. However, what about that one incident that lands you in the hospital? At that point, it is not “JUST ABOUT YOU.” It becomes about the lost work days, pain, stress, and the impact on your family and co-workers.

As we enter September Safety Month, I encourage and challenge you to take all the training you can and use it to prevent accidents.

September is not the only month to do this. It should be an everyday occurrence for all of us to work and play safely. How long does it take to have a tailgate safety talk before a project begins? It only takes five minutes to maybe save someone’s life or body parts.

I hope that none of us ever has to try and explain why a co-worker was injured or killed at work. I have been around a long time, and have heard almost every excuse for not working in a safe manner. I think the best one is, “I have been doing it this way for 30 years or more and nothing has happened yet.” The optimal word is “YET.” Believe me, it will happen. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but some day when you least expect it. Why do we put ourselves at risk when it is unnecessary to do so? We do it for all the wrong reasons: time and money. Safety Month, to me, means taking the time to reset our priorities on what really matters: the safety of ourselves and our colleagues. If I have touched a nerve for anyone reading this then I have accomplished my goal.

Cliff Harris is interim director of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.