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So We All Go Home Safe – Family Matters

- July 24, 2018 by Thomas Jolliff, ARM, CEES, ALCM (View all posts by Thomas)

My desire to help workers go home safe is what ultimately steered me into the risk management profession; but, the first chapter of my story begins with my grandpa, Samuel Jolliff, an autoworker from Lansing, MI.

My grandpa was quick to smile, had a chortling laugh and was always overjoyed to see his grandkids. He wore thick black glasses, sported a closely shaven haircut and like many of his generation, had an ever-present cigarette in his hand.

He had also suffered a disabling workplace injury.

When I was a young boy, my grandpa’s severe speech impairment and shuffling walk frightened me. He was dependent on relatives to help him with the most basic daily activities, something I always remember is driving him to all of our family gatherings.

In the aftermath of his injury, he was left to deal with a life-altering path of health issues, emotional pain and societal seclusion because of his speech impairment. All because of a workplace accident that prevented him from going home safe that day.

In my late teens, when I learned the facts behind his disabilities, I remember thinking that he had been unjustly treated by his employer. At the time of his injury, the early 1950s, worker safety was often an after-thought in the workplace (if thought of at all).

Samuel Jolliff – Thanksgiving circa 1975

There was no formal modified duty or return to work programs to transition employees back into the workplace, and the implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act was still farther away than the moon landing.

As a safety professional, I see the aftereffects of workplace injuries almost every week. My colleagues and I retell these incidents as lessons learned, and the impact of hearing these stories is influential, no matter who the audience.

Providing a safe workplace isn’t complicated, especially when we take a humanistic approach to risk prevention. It comes down to a simple, yet powerful, principle that we ask leaders and workers alike to share. A commitment to ensuring every worker goes home safe to their loved ones, each and every day.

Every worker deserves that promise and the opportunity to live a long, fulfilling life!