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When the Layoff Happens to You

Reality is here in a big way. Unemployment is soaring. Most of us are watching with interest, but not committed interest. I am reminded of the humorous anecdote about the commitment of the chicken and the pig in a ham and egg breakfast: The chicken has a vested interest (donating the egg), but the pig is committed!

Then my phone rang late one afternoon. My position as Technical Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine had been cut because of the downward spiral of the economy. "Okay," I thought. "Deep breath, well wishes, goodbyes. What now?"

One of the most important things any safety professional can do upon being terminated is to take a few hours to reflect on the job that he or she has done. Be brutal. Consider the good, the bad, the really bad, and what you would do differently if given the chance. Consider what you liked best and hated about the job. Then, think about the value and quality you leave behind. Make sure your pride in your industry and yourself shows clearly. Ensure projects are in order, items/equipment needing to be turned in are done timely and with dignity. Keep your communications respectful. The impression you leave on the corporation is that they "let a good one go."

As I made a list of projects to turn in (actually, I was up to date), I took the time to review the volume of my work with OH&S over the years since 1995 and the significance of it. Frankly, I was surprised at the diversity of articles on all sorts of topics relating to safety management and survival in the quagmire of needs, wants, budget woes, and codes related to occupational safety and managing with a positive, proactive approach.

I reviewed letters, faxes, and e-mails sent by readers who gained insight from my safety/industry checklists and articles. Some were elaborate and offered new article topics and feedback. Others were critical. Many wanted more on a topic. One is a weathered, dirty, handwritten card from a construction safety pro I have kept many years. Its scrawled words have the most meaning: "Your articles make a difference."

Thanks. It has been a great ride. You, the readers, have made all the difference in providing safety education and awareness. Perhaps our paths will cross yet again.

I am very proud of the work I have done and will continue to do as a safety professional. Our work directly saves lives and prevents injury. There is no greater compassionate service.

About the Author

Linda J. Sherrard (ljohnsonsherrard@nc.rr.com), MS, CSP, is Safety Consultant II with Central Prison Healthcare Complex in Raleigh, N.C., and is the former technical editor of OH&S.

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