How to improve “from some to none.”

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Dan Murphy, President of Murphy Risk Control Solutions, delivered the keynote at the Iowa Master Builder’s Safety conference last month.


His message contained 3 main points.

It was simple.


Yet daunting.


In terms of injuries and deaths on the jobsite, Murphy cited 3 things that must be present to move from “some” to “none.”

  1. Security 
  2. Confidence 
  3. Appreciation



Consider it the three-legged Murphy stool.

All three elements are necessary.




Workers who fear for their lives work more slowly.

It’s the survival instinct.

It’s part of what Seth Godin calls our “lizard brain,” the oldest portion of our grey matter. We share this brain evolution with lizards and crocs and species that have been around a lot longer than us.


This is our Fight/Flight brain.

It’s instinct.


Workers who fear for their lives work more slowly.

When workers are protected with the best safety gear, they have less fear.


Less Fear = More Work.




It’s often said there is nothing new in Safety.

Slips, trips and falls… ladders and scaffolding… cranes… drugs and alcohol… language barriers and differing cultural paradigms among immigrants… largely the same set of concerns we had at the turn of the century.


1900, that is.


But on your jobsite with different people, products, processes and pressures colliding (literally and figuratively) daily, there’s always something new to consider.

To gain confidence in this environment, we need training.

Not just the pull-the-guys-off-the-job-type of training; constant training of the informal variety.


Continuous Improvement.

Constant awareness.

Daily discussions of potential death.


A culture of safety is based on a subtle duality: most safety activity (discussions, training, toolbox talks, etc.) will result in a non-event, yet the jobsite is an unforgiving place.


In the overwhelming majority of jobsite minutes, nothing happens.

When it does though… it’s bad.


So keep the training fresh.

Training = Confidence.




Do you care about the workers on your site?


Do you acknowledge their presence when you see them?


Do you know their names?

Do you know where they are from?

Do you know if they have kids?



It’s trite, but the saying, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” is accurate.


Leadership and Management are two distinct behaviors.

You lead people and you manage things.


You can’t manage your way to a culture of safety.


You can try to manage people.

You can “empower” them.


It may help the culture of safety for a time.

But it rarely works in the long run.


Workers need to care on their own.

It has to come from within every worker.


You lead by caring.



So, there it is.

Three simple things.

Make your team feel secure, confident and appreciated and they’ll deliver great work safely.


This should be the new Murphy’s Law.





Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.    

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Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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