22 Workplace Safety Quotes From Leaders and Experts
Draw on these quotes and workplace safety slogans to improve your employees’ understanding of and commitment to safety.
Quotes hold an undeniable, concentrated power. Featured in prologues of great novels and even your high school yearbook, quotes convey the wisdom, perspective, humor, or encouragement of those who have learned from real life. These timeless bits of information are no less relevant in the realm of safety and preparedness than they are anywhere else. Especially from trusted, experienced sources, quotes can be both persuasive and memorable for organizations working to improve safety management.
It’s not enough to simply remind your people to “always be careful.” In this article, we’ll present some of the most impactful safety quotes from around the world, including some you can hear only in AlertMedia’s own archives, and break them down by topic. Keep an eye out for quotes and slogans you can repurpose for your own workplace!
Top 5 Workplace Safety Quotes
All of the safety slogans and quotes we’ve gathered here are uniquely valuable, but these are the all-time greats according to the AlertMedia team:
“Tend to the people, and they will tend to the business.” — John C. Maxwell, author
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” — Benjamin Franklin, statesman and political philosopher
“It is my sincere wish and hope that the day will come when the protecting arms of Universal Safety will spread out over all industry and reach all the millions of workers who make industry possible.” — Charles Schwab, former President of Bethlehem Steel
“The safety of the people shall be the highest law.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman statesman
“If you can’t communicate, you can’t recover.” — Peter Steinfeld, SVP of Safety Solutions, AlertMedia
Quotes on the Importance of Safety
The following quotes make it clear that every organization should prioritize safety for workers, without whom business would grind to a halt.
“…We need to stay vigilant. It’s how we prepare for threats and how we direct our resources that will ensure the safety of our people.” — Larry Delfiner, Business Resiliency Director
“The economic waste resulting from carelessness is appalling, but anyone who stops for a moment to consider the sorrow and desolation which is brought into thousands of lives each year by utter thoughtlessness must feel a new resolve to make a habit of ‘Safety First.’” — W.C. Durant, founder and President of General Motors
“There’s no better policy in society than pursuing the health and safety of its people.” — Ralph Nader, consumer safety advocate
“Tend to the people, and they will tend to the business.” — John C. Maxwell, author
John C. Maxwell voices a simple directive not to be underestimated: make sure your workers are safe and empowered; otherwise, they won’t be as effective at doing the work that runs the business.
Apart from the economic and business impacts of poor safety—these safety tips also emphasize the inherent value of human life and the morality of looking out for others, especially those who are working for you. This is your duty of care. Keeping your people top of mind is key to being an effective safety leader.
Quotes on Preparedness
When it comes to safety issues, being prepared to respond to an incident gives you and your employees an enormous advantage compared to reacting after the fact. These safety messages focus on the fact that there’s only so much we can do to prevent potential accidents—so in order to stay safe when the rare incident does occur, team members must prepare and plan.
“The danger which is least expected soonest comes to us.” — Voltaire, 18th-century French author
“There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’ve prepared for the worst.” — Stephen King, author
“We cannot stop natural disasters but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives wouldn’t have to be lost if there was enough disaster preparedness.” — Petra Nemcova, philanthropist
“You can’t stop something from happening completely, but you can at least give them [your employees] the tools and information for them to be able to know what to do when something does happen.” — Shawn Rafferty, owner of SPR Group
Nemcova and Rafferty both recognize that most of our preparedness happens within the mind. That is, investigation and careful planning are central to improving safety outcomes in a dynamic work environment.
Quotes on Awareness
These safety sayings point to the pivotal skill known as situational awareness. By remaining cognizant of what’s going on around you at all times, you’re setting yourself up to react quickly and appropriately to get yourself out of harm’s way should the need arise.
“The difference between being a victim and a survivor is often a low level of situational awareness.” — Barry Eisler, author
“Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands.” — Jeff Cooper, military and police instructor
Safety expert Jeff Cooper advocates for a tiered approach to situational awareness. This model instructs users to be constantly vigilant but at different levels depending on the situation. Regardless, as Barry Eisler points out, even a modicum of situational awareness can be enough to make a big difference.
On an episode of the Employee Safety Podcast, 9/11 World Trade Center survivor Joe Dittmar shared his story to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. It’s difficult to imagine your way into such a crisis, so it’s critical that we learn from those who have survived with lessons to share. In his harrowing story, Joe exemplifies the wisdom of these quotes by remembering his safety training and identifying those who were in a position to help.
Quotes on Communication
When any group of people convenes to solve a problem, it’s imperative that they have a proper communication system to coordinate their actions. These common-sense quotes show that when it comes to workplace safety, communication is key.
“If you can’t communicate, you can’t recover.” — Peter Steinfeld, SVP of Safety Solutions at AlertMedia
“Information sharing helps build a stronger community across the board.” — Bob Arnold, President of Disaster Recovery Journal
“[Responding to a] crisis situation is a team sport. You gotta get in there and work your options together.” — Jeff Hahn, author
As Jeff Hahn points out, crisis response is feeble when you are working alone. Successful crisis response strategies involve entire teams of people collaborating to devise solutions. Yet, when that many people are working together, communication can either be a help or a hindrance.
For example, if one person doesn’t know what another is doing, it can be counterproductive to emergency response efforts. Rarely does everything go according to plan during an emergency, which is why crisis response leaders need the ability to both communicate out information and receive feedback back from employees.
Keeping everyone up to date with relevant changes means that people can respond to a rapidly changing situation with confidence, and it allows safety professionals to control the flow of information. This control becomes even more critical when the conversation moves to social media platforms or personal text messages, which are prone to misinformation and ineffective alerts.
Quotes on Culture
Perhaps the most important, and most difficult, step to implementing good safety plans at your organization is establishing a culture of safety. This means that, at the end of the day, every single person at your company is committed to the philosophy and practice of safety. Memorable, authoritative workplace safety slogans can be especially useful as you work to get your entire organization on the same page.
“For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.” — Eleanor Everet, safety expert
“If you’re not motivating [your people] to be safe, they’re not going to have the behaviors to be safe.” — Mark French, Senior Health, Safety, and Environmental Manager at Dalkia Solutions
“A company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation.” — Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb
“The future of the safety movement is not so much dependent upon the invention of safety devices as on the improvement of methods of educating people to the ideal of caution and safety.” — Walter Dill Scott, psychologist
A good safety culture requires a constant commitment from all of your employees, and these quotes illustrate that. In addition to the day-to-day safety rules that keep everyone safe, cultural commitment means that the company’s safety ideals are ingrained in every action and process.
How To Use Safety Quotes and Slogans at Work
If you’ve been involved in any safety efforts, be they personal or professional, you can likely relate to one of the above quotes. In truth, the pursuit of safety is universal and ongoing work. A pithy safety slogan or quote is only a minor tool for cultivating workplace safety, but it can help bolster understanding and information retention among your employees.
Work these sayings into the conversation during safety meetings—especially alongside dedicated monthly safety topics—or simply incorporate them into your day-to-day speech to normalize health and safety ideals. You may even choose to emblazon mugs and mouse pads with safety slogans to set the tone for a positive safety culture. Whichever approach you choose, these safety quotes will serve as powerful reminders of your collective safety work.