Workplace safety starts at home

Gary Ryan

My eldest son is 17 and is eagerly searching for his first car. We have two parameters for his search. The first is his car must have a 5 Star ANCAP Rating, and the second is our budget.

Prior to facilitating a Safety Conference for Programmed with my good friend Jock Macneish in 2011, I would have shared different criteria with you regarding a first car for my son. He was only 11yo at the time so my criteria were somewhat premature, but a story shared by Programmed’s Managing Director Chris Sutherland changed my mindset.

Chris shared a story about a good friend of his who was a successful businessman. At the time Chris’ friend drove a 7 Series BMW, one of the safest cars available in 2011. His eldest son had just turned 18 and as part of teaching his son about money, Chris’ friend insisted that his son pay 100% for his car.

Gary Ryan

Programmed Safety Conference

The result, the 18yo bought a Holden Commodore that was 20 years old. The car’s ANCAP Rating wasn’t considered in the purchasing process and would have rated as 2 Stars at best.

Statistically, who was most likely to be involved in a serious accident? An experienced man in his mid-40s or a young 18yo male driving his first car?

Of course, the 18yo was more likely to be in an accident. Yet it was the father who was driving a 5 Star ANCAP rated vehicle, while his son was driving a 2 Star ANCAP rated vehicle.

No doubt you can guess what happened. The 18yo was involved in a terrible accident and lost his life.

In a poignant moment, Chris shared how his friend had wished that he had had a different mindset when it came to the lessons associated with buying a first car. Lessons about money could be taught in other ways.

Having been involved in a head-on car accident myself when I was a 19yo, resulting in my girlfriend at the time suffering a brain injury and me rupturing my spleen, you would be forgiven for expecting that I would have adopted a 5 Star ANCAP Rating view of the world myself.

But I hadn’t. Until I heard Chris speak.

I was locked in to the mindset that buying your first car was a terrific opportunity to learn about money and as a result you get what you pay for. I had thought that would be a great lesson for my children to learn about money. The car’s safety hadn’t entered my mind as part of the equation.

Even though I was facilitating the event, Chris’ message that safety starts at home struck a deep chord with me and has stayed with me ever since.

I am forever grateful for hearing Chris’ message. I guess I’ll never know the true impact of his lesson because my son is likely to miss being involved in some accidents (at least) purely because of the quality of the safety of the car he will be driving. Should he be involved in an accident, at least he and his passengers will be protected as much is currently possible.

Chris Sutherland remains MD of Programmed which now has 20,000 employees. My understanding is that Chris’ message that safety starts at home is as strong as ever and no doubt has been a major factor in Programmed’s ongoing successes in its safety journey since Chris joined the company as MD in 2008.

I know this view has changed my mindset about safety, and helped me to realise the role that our mindset plays with regard to how we live our lives, starting of course, at home.

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals, their teams and organisations, move Beyond Being Good®

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