Safety Articles

Getting to ZERO Injuries: One Task at a Time

American industry continues to come to grips with hitting zero injuries in the workplace. More than 10 years ago, I began a campaign for this, continually running headlong at the windmills of the zero injury safety culture. Leaders and workers pushed back with statements such as:

  • “It can’t be done!”
  • “This is a dangerous business and injuries just happen.”
  • “People are going to make mistakes!”
  • “Leaders are only interested in getting a bonus!”
  • “Isn’t safety someone else’s responsibility?”
  • “How can you make a workplace that safe?”
  • “Do you really think it’s possible to have zero injuries?”
  • Zero is a goal, target, benchmark, ideal, or whatever you want to call it.

Achieving zero injuries requires vision, a process, effort, and the commitment of everyone in the organization. The target does not have to be talked about 24/7, but it does have to become a seamless part of the business. Safety is a big job that happens when we establish deliberate steps to accomplish the desired result.

Make It More Difficult to Get Hurt

Anything that seems to be impossible or just plain difficult can be broken down into steps. Learning the process of recognizing and controlling hazards takes time.

Some clients understand what we are trying to accomplish, and they deliberately focus to make sure everyone is not just seeing and reporting hazards but also taking steps to mitigate hazards to a lower level of risk. What we are attempting to do is create a workplace where it is more difficult to get hurt. Effort is required to hit zero injuries; it does not happen just because we say it will.

The eight concepts to achieve zero injuries are:

  1. Break down the job of hitting zero injuries to macro and micro work areas
  2. Look at your overall location (think macro, aka the big picture) and see it as a workplace
  3. Identify what is in your workplace that can cause injury (identify hazards in the form of material, conditions, or activity)
  4. Take steps to mitigate the hazards in the workplace to a lower level of risk
  5. Take a look at your worksite (think micro, meaning local or where you are completing tasks)
  6. Identify what is in your worksite that can cause injury (this is a close-up, focused look)
  7. Identify what controls can be employed to reduce the risk of injury (decrease the exposure or impact of the hazard)
  8. Ask yourself, “Do we want to reach zero injuries in our workplace and are we willing to put out the necessary effort?”

Call to Action

Zero is a desired state that must become a personal target, and you must commit to expending the effort.

Effort is only expended when we are trying to accomplish something we want. So today, ask yourself if you want to hit zero injuries and create a workplace or worksite where nobody gets hurt.

About the Author:

Carl Potter has helped many workers go home every day without injury through his efforts as a keynote speaker, consultant, and author. He is the author and facilitator of the hazard recognition and control workshop, delivered to thousands of people in hundreds of workplaces in the United States and Canada. He has authored eight books. For more information, contact: Carl Potter at or The Safety Institute at

comments powered by Disqus