While developing the outline for this paper, Rick Strycker, one of the authors, related a recent experience that goes to the heart of what Leading Incident and Injury-Free looks like. Here is Rick's story:

Last week, I bought a new television set at Sears. While I waited in the customer service department for my new appliance to arrive at the dock, I noticed a large, heavy-set man moving boxes from the main platform to the loading area where my car was parked. He wore a harness around his waist, the kind often used for heavy lifting, and I wondered if he might be nursing an injury. I glanced at his nametag - his name was Ralph.

When my name flashed on the digital reader board, indicating that my order was coming down the ramp, I hopped out of my chair and prepared to receive my TV. I could see Ralph coming through the large metal doors rolling a heavy, bulky box straddled across an orange hand truck. I quickly moved to the doorway to pull the doors open, eager to help. With a stern look, Ralph waved me back, pointed to a small silver knob at the top corner of the doorframe. "It's got a magnetic safety lock," he said, "so you won't get it open." As he pushed through the door from the inside, he breezed past me with his heavy load. "It's for your safety," he said, "and mine."

Still wanting to help, I hustled through the next set of doors and out to my car. I opened my car's rear door just in time for Ralph to slide the hand truck up to the tailgate. Quickly, he slid the huge box off the truck and into the back of my car.

"That's a heavy television you've got there sir," he said.

"Yes, it is," I replied.

After I slammed the rear door shut, Ralph set the hand truck aside, turned to face me, and spoke in a serious tone of voice, "Sir, this is a heavy appliance. I strongly suggest you don't try to unload this by yourself. Get a buddy." He then disappeared back into the store. Driving home with my new television, I realized that Ralph might be a great example of an Incident and Injury-Free Leader.

As we look together at the attributes of Incident and Injury-Free Leadership throughout the next several pages, let us remember Ralph and see how he measured up.

A Short History of Safety Leadership

Over the past 100 years, the world of workplace safety has seen dramatic improvements that have saved many thousands of lives. Just imagine the ridicule Ralph might have suffered from his "macho" coworkers if he had worn a back protection harness 75 years ago. It is likely that his care and concern for personal safety, both his and mine, would have earned him mockery and scorn.

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