Safety Quotes: Motivation to Improve Your Work Safety Culture
Reinforcing a culture of safety in your workplace is a job that's never done. Keeping leadership, management, and frontline workers engaged with the subject requires various tools.
Sayings and slogans are one tool you can use to help safety lessons better relate to those working at a job site. Famous quotes about safety can launch a conversation. Inspirational safety quotes can quickly remind you about a complicated safety topic. Whether you're using safety quotes that are funny or thought-provoking, they all move your employees a little further toward your goal of safety.
Here are a few of our favorite motivational safety quotes for the workplace.
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"Working safely gets old, but so do those who practice it."
This quote is one of those inspirational safety quotes that are more like a meme – nobody knows who first said it, but it gets repeated because there's instantly recognizable wisdom (plus, who doesn't love a play on words?)
And it's true.
The year before the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) took effect in the U.S., we estimate that there were 14,000 deaths due to job-related accidents. That's a guess because it was not tracked. It is worth noting that the number does not account for the fatalities resulting from job-related illnesses like asbestosis.
In 2020, fewer than 5,000 documented fatal occupational injuries were recorded in a workforce almost double the size. That's an 80% reduction in the 50 years that OSHA's been at work.
It's easy to see the downsides of workplace safety protocols. The extra steps can cause inefficiencies and longer timetables, the PPE can be uncomfortable or distracting, and the rules can be nitpicky.
But when you find yourself dwelling on the downsides, safety quotes like this can remind us that thousands of American workers have avoided an early death or permanent disability thanks to OSHA. Millions have avoided injury, illness, and lost time.
And the work still gets done. Let's call that a win.
"Paper doesn't save people – people save people."
This famous quote about safety comes from the late, great occupational safety guru Dan Peterson. From the 1970s, Peterson pushed the concept that leadership and accountability were key to increasing workplace safety.
It's all well and good to have a safety plan on paper that satisfies whichever regulatory agency is breathing down your neck. But "paper doesn't save people – people save people."
You need the people in charge to understand the value of safety and accept its consequences for the bottom line. You need people on the ground to recognize hazards in real time and take appropriate measures. You need your managers and supervisors to maintain a system and attitude where safety is constantly on everyone's minds.
"Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands."
Jeff Cooper, "the father of modern pistol shooting," was talking about gun safety when he came up with this little gem, but it's still one of the most on-point safety quotes for work.
There have been many life-saving inventions over the last 50 years that regularly prevent disaster. Safety gear and personal protective equipment are essential components of workplace safety, but they will never – can never – replace knowledge of safety principles and their intelligent application.
Safety equipment is a tool, not a cure-all. It must be used in the right situations and in the right way. When we rely on safety mechanisms unthinkingly, we open the door for an accident to happen.
"Don't Be a Fool, Use the Proper Tool."
This saying is another of those construction safety quotes that's more of a tagline or a slogan.
Construction folks can get creative in rigging tools and everyday objects to use outside their intended purpose. It's usually borne out of necessity, but it can become almost a point of pride.
Of course, the problem is that using tools "creatively" can be dangerous. The word "fool" in this safety quote is meant to counteract some of the shine that comes from being clever about jerry-rigging a solution.
When you use the proper tool, it's not only designed for efficiency at a particular job but also safety. The tool will be appropriate for working with a certain material, accomplishing a certain task in a certain way, and doing so repeatedly with little error or variation. On the safety side, it might have insulation, a helpful grip angle, or a component that guards the user against injury.
Using the wrong tool can result in property damage or accidents that result in injuries. In turn, the damage or injuries inflate costs and cause delays.
"It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, THEN do your best."
As safety motivational quotes go, this one is highly repurposed. William Edwards Deming, the author of this quote, was a statistician and thought leader in post-WWII industrial development and quality control. A line can be drawn between his work and safety management, but it wasn't his primary focus.
This is still spot-on as a workplace safety quote, though.
Education and training are the pillars of any workplace safety program. Individuals can do their best to work safely by trial, error, and logic. But without proper education, this is often meaningless. We have a wealth of accumulated knowledge on workplace safety. If workers can learn the lessons of every previous safety failure anywhere, they'll be able to do their best in an educated manner.
Workers need to learn about hazards they may face, potential consequences, and their remedies. Then they must apply this knowledge repeatedly and have it periodically reinforced until it's part of how they see their world.
This is one of the reasons that OSHA requires training for many of their standards and why so many of them have a minimum frequency for retraining.
Compliance training can feel difficult and intimidating, but you can give yourself a head start by letting training professionals do the work. We've been an OSHA-authorized training provider for over 25 years, and we provide a large library of OSHA-compliant safety training on a wide variety of topics.
Students can learn about hazards and OSHA standards in an online, self-paced, and mobile-friendly format. They'll go through interactive exercises and fun games to help them learn to apply their knowledge on the job.
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