Mr. Burns From the Simpsons is, No Surprise, a Safety Hypocrite

We can probably all use a mid-week chuckle… I used to be a die hard fan of The Simpsons. I’ve drifted away from watching the show over time, but a friend recommended that I was the season finale.

The full episode is embedded below (and probably can only be seen in the U.S., sorry).

My favorite part started about 2:00 into the video.

Homer is trying to get out the door to go home and C. Montgomery Burns stops him.

“Simpson… hold up one end of this poster.”

simpsons 1

Ha, a cheesy safety poster for the nuclear plant. The type of thing that W. Edwards Deming would have railed again… posters and slogans that don’t reflect reality.

Does the Springfield Nuclear Plant have a track record of putting safety first? Anyone who watches the show knows the answer is a resounding “no.”

Burns says, “Now use it to conceal this!”

simpsons 2

Yikes! That whole in the wall doesn’t look very good.

But, Homer and Waylon Smithers do what they’re told (it’s a “command and control” workplace, of course).

We see signs of the toxic workplace culture in “Montgomery Bird” holding:

  1. A loose uranium rod
  2. A whip

So, they follow orders and cover the hole:

simpsons 3

Problem solved! “Excellent,” as Burns would say.

It’s frustrating to see organizations not practice what they preach when it comes to safety… in cartoon Springfield or the real world.

Here’s the whole episode:

I hope you don’t see similarities to your own workplace.

I did learn, via Twitter, that there are workplace safety posters that you can buy featuring The Simpsons. I’m not sure if that’s good in that people might look at them or bad that it trivializes safety as an important issue.

 

Even in Spanish:

And French:

 

I don’t think “PAY ATTENTION” is really a good safety strategy instead of improving systems:

I might have to buy one or two of these posters for my office, given what’s available on eBay and this website.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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