Summing Up 2008

I’ve learned a lot this year about patience, planning, risk taking, and managing. Poorer but wiser, I hope, after the financial markets’ tumble, I am looking back on a year of growth and anxiety, with many successes and some disappointments.

Lessons relearned include these:

1. Stretch yourself, even if you’re forced to do it. You’ll be rewarded. My examples are the first OH&S Safe & Secure TV program, which went online in July, and our 2008 Executive Safety Summit, a conference we held in October in Arlington,Va. I had no experience at planning or executing a program in either format, but both turned out well and were enthusiastically received. Experienced, collaborative teams accomplished both with help from a number of industry professionals who graciously contributed their time and talent. What I saw as risks were in fact highly rewarding.

2. Buy, hold, and diversify. Don’t panic. Be a contrarian. The wisest investor I know buys when the others have thrown in the towel. He doesn’t buy on margin or chase fads. He’s disciplined and sticks with his game plan; I try to do the same in all things.

3. Winning requires a great manager. Case in point: the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.

But a great manager may not be enough. The 2008 Chicago Cubs’ season capped a century of futility.

4. Sometimes, like Cubs fans, we must be extremely persistent. The AED/CPR article on page 26 of this issue illustrates this point. Trainers still encounter groundless fears when they teach their students to save someone’s life in this way. At bottom, I see the problem as a communication failure. Too many of us don’t talk with our own family members about DNRs and other end-of-life decisions in general.

The safety profession won’t stop pushing for updated permissible exposure limits or truthful injury reporting, even though those problems have existed for many years. Let’s continue pushing and hope that needed changes finally happen in 2009.

Persistent, hands-on management and organizational discipline are keys to safety success. An engaged and motivated workforce who believe they are valued by management will make it relatively easy.

5. A sound product has value and lasts, if it adapts to new technology. Volume 78 of OH&S begins next month. We’ve adapted our model to new communication technologies, and you’ll find many new offerings on www.ohs in 2009 that prove this: a virtual expo in August, two spotlighted topics every month, new white papers, online product focus charts, and more.

This article originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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