Much can be learned and gained from listening to the heartfelt and emotional stories communicated by "injured workers" who have sustained serious on-the-job injuries. I also believe the testimonials from what I call career "injury-free" workers can hold similar or greater value if we seek them out. Their stories don't reach the headline news or radio channels. However, their testimonials non-the-less are very compelling and the attributes or characteristics injury-free workers possess can be learned and if personally put into practice on a daily basis will provide a pathway to achieving a similar injury-free outcome.
We all have read, heard or listened to personal stories or testimonials from workers who at one point in their working career sustained a serious injury on the job and in turn learned how it impacted not only their work and personal life, but the lives of their families, loved ones, work mates, friends and employers. We see through their emotional stories how their devastating injuries hold lasting effects long after the injury-producing event has taken place. Some injured workers are willing to share their story and lessons learned in hopes of preventing us and others from experiencing similar consequences.
At the other end of the spectrum are those individuals who have worked their entire career injuryfree. I always wondered was it luck or something else that allowed such individuals to achieve this milestone in their life. Like injured workers, injury-free workers I felt would also have a similar compelling and powerful story to tell which all of us could learn from, but absent the tragic consequences.
A single informal discussion I had back in 1997 with a thirty-five (35) year career "injury-free" maintenance worker in a manufacturing plant left me wanting to learn more about he and others like him as to what they believe caused this desired outcome. Something we all aspire for, an injury-free career.
Over the past ten (10) years I have attempted to seek out, meet and interview workers in many different industries who have worked their career injury-free. I defined, for the scope of my informal study, an injury-free worker as one who has not had a documented injury beyond simple first aid treatment. Whenever possible injury records, discussions with management (primarily employee supervisors, Human Resources & Safety Department Staff) and co-workers along with service/safety recognition awards were used to substantiate and verify injury-free status.
I have come across injury-free workers during my many visits to manufacturing facilities, construction job sites, warehousing operations, etc. to conduct such activities as safety management system audits, perform training, attend safety meetings, conduct design safety reviews and the like. I have met injury-free workers from both within my company as well as those external to my employer. Injury-free workers have held such job titles as machine operator, maintenance mechanic, service technician, construction laborer, delivery truck driver, warehouse forklift operator to name just a few.