Happy Labor Day 2015: Good Jobs, Safe Jobs


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It's the Labor Day holiday in the United States today, so I'm trying to minimize my own labor (that said, I'll be working a bit… on the 3rd revised edition of my book Lean Hospitals… by choice… and not for an hourly wage). Many people ARE working today, including folks at the grocery store, the gym, and other stops I might make.

Anyway, thanks to those who are working on this day.

Appropriate for Labor Day is a blog post by MIT professor Zeynep Ton:

The U.S. Needs a ‘Good Jobs' Revolution in Retail

You can also listen to my recent podcast with Professor Ton.

It makes me sad that there are still so many workplace accidents. Recently, I read about a construction worker fatality at the Minnesota Vikings new stadium. This seems to happen far too often with new stadium construction. The company involved had nine safety violation citations over the past five years, including “failure to use safety harnesses on elevated worksites.” Shockingly, the company blames workers, as one of the owners said:

“…the company stresses safety on the job, but can't control the actions of individual workers.

“People do foolish things. They don't hook up their lanyards,” Berwald said.

Well, as a company owner, you're responsible for the culture of safety, and the culture in general. Do you discipline workers who are seen doing unsafe things? Are supervisors encouraged to look the other way when workers do unsafe things that speed up the work? You don't improve safety by blaming the workers, especially after a death.

We still have a long way to go.

As I shared last year, here are a few posts from years past on remembering the need for safety and respect in our workplaces:

2012:  Labor Day Reflections for a Safer Week (and Years) Ahead

2010:  Labor Day – Our Obligation for Worker Safety

Have a great day, whether you are working, spending time with your family, or both (like me).

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Robert says


    Great points. With regard to the construction safety issue, I imagine that in an effort to save time (construction projects are usually behind schedule), employees begin taking shortcuts because management emphasizes time over safety. It’s exactly what you say in your blog: “…as a company owner, you’re responsible for the culture of safety…” It appears that many leaders simply fail to understand how their emphasis on things other than safety become apparent in how the employees behave on the job when it comes to engaging in safe behaviors. I guess it’s always easy to blame others than look for collective solutions to problems.

  2. Adam Fonseca says

    Hi Mark,

    Love your blog and am interested in reading your book, Lean Hospitals, once finished. I am an certified Black Belt at The Joint Commission and have a vested interest in the topic you are researching.

    Feel free to reach out and connect to discuss further. Would love to chat with you.

  3. Mark Edmondson says

    It’s ironic that the hourly workers which Labor Day honors can’t afford to take the day off; it’s really become a holiday for professionals and management.

    Maybe Congress should rename it “High-Paid Professionals’ Day”.

    Or maybe they should just pass a living wage bill instead.

    1. Mark Graban says

      Ironic, indeed.

      It’s also a day off for politicians and labor leaders who lead marches and rallies, although I guess they are “working” now that I think about it.

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