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.

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.

I might have to buy one or two of these posters for my office, given what's available on eBay and this website. Update: I did buy some and they are hanging in my office.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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