The Accidental Safety Expert

The Accidental Safety Expert

When I started writing for PK Safety Supply three years ago, it was primarily because I needed a job. The offices were also close to home, the folks seemed nice, and they provided health care. Now, after writing over 250 blog posts and hundreds of website product pages, I've come to understand something about safety and the people who work in this industry.

Everyone wishes they could find their true calling. We have a faux-motivational poster in the office that says "Get to Work. You're not paid to believe in the power of your dreams." Funny and true. Few people are lucky enough to have a career that they actually enjoy. I don't think many people who work in the safety industry believe they have found their perfect path in life, their vehicle for self-expression and fulfillment. I didn't.

But I have come to realize that I work for a company that is honest with their customers and in an industry that tries every day to make the things safer for workers. Is it sexy? No. Is it cool? Not one little bit. But our products do what they say. Some of the items we sell are fairly complicated. We offer sophisticated monitoring devices with sensors that can detect dangerous gases and elements down to one part per billion. Billion. With a B. These tools are meant to protect workers doing difficult work in dangerous environments. We are required to know about the regulations affecting them and what safety equipment is best for the specific work they do.

We don't push products that folks don't need. We deliver equipment all over the world and it gets there when we say it will 99.624% of the time. We don't price gouge and we stand by the products we offer. If a customer has a question that is beyond our normal scope of expertise, we'll get on the phone with the manufacturers and get an answer for them. We attend trainings and talk to factory representatives so we can continue to be experts in our field. Granted it may be a field that mostly sells things people never use, but the one time in a thousand our products need to work, they do. And when they do, they may save a life, or protect a worker from harm. That's noble.

OSHA and NIOSH keep records of on-the-job accidents, but not the near misses, the close calls, or the forewarned and therefore not even close to catastrophe. Protecting a wage earner in a family and making it possible for that person to continue bringing home a paycheck affects everyone in that household. A fall averted or a confined space that wasn't entered because of a low oxygen reading on the gas monitor we sold means our products are doing their job, and those workers get to go home at the end of the day.

I've spent the past three years writing about our various products - gas detectors, harnesses, hard hats. They're not exciting. Not to me. Not to anyone I've ever met. People don't buy safety equipment because it looks cool or even because they particularly want it. They are required to have it while they work or they run the risk of being fined or losing their job. It's necessary and it's important even if it's also often uncomfortable, hot, scratchy, and in the way. We just sell the stuff. We didn't design it.

Everyone is out to make a buck. I'm not fooling myself. Business is undertaken for profit. But there are many ways to make a living. Three years ago I wanted to work somewhere flashier, someplace that when I told my family and friends where I worked, they'd recognize it and think I was doing well in my professional life. PK Safety isn't flashy, it's not high-profile, and I have to explain what we do to everyone I meet. But we provide necessary tools to workers and employers. I know that my small contributions to the web will continue to help people make informed decisions about equipment they'll use to protect themselves and possibly even save their lives. At the end of my time at PK Safety, I'm proud to have contributed.

Aug 10th 2014 Justin McCarter

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