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Jim Poage has over two decades of success in creating, implementing, and maintaining safety, health, and environmental programs at both local branches and corporate levels. He’s created and introduced programs during the past 20 years that resulted in over a 30% reduction in accidents and incidents, which has also reduced those employers’ insurance costs, too.

Today he is Safety Director at Formetco Incorporated.

His diverse experience in business ranges from billboard construction and change of advertising copy to live amphitheater music performances to monster truck racing to medical device manufacturing—and beyond—and he’s also a sought-after speaker for safety, health and environmental issues.

As a consultant, Jim has worked with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Becton Dickinson, Baxter Travenol, Lamar Outdoor, Plexus International, Keystone Outdoor, and Frontier Outdoor, just to name a few.

Keep reading to see the must-know advice this Safety Hero has for someone starting out in the field, and why he says the question “How can I help?” can be one of the most powerful questions any safety leader can utilize.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given and who gave it to you?

My best friend, and previous boss, Mike Deeds used to “borrow” quotes from famous people. One of his favorites was “do the right thing even when no one is looking.” This has been the best piece of advice I’ve been given in my working career.

What’s your advice for someone starting out in a role that supports safety and/or health of employees in some capacity? 

My advice to someone starting out in a safety or health position would be to stay true to what you know is right. What I mean is that sometimes safety professionals are asked to give leniency or over look unsafe conditions because of an impact on production, or the possibility that someone will be terminated for an unsafe act.

Do not let others cause you to make a decision that could result in someone repeating an unsafe act or risking fatal injury just because you failed to report or discipline the offender. Having someone lose their job is far better than attending a funeral.

Do you have any mantra you live or work by?

I guess if you asked someone what mantra I say most often, it would be, “How can I help?” When I have a customer or client call me with a problem the first thing I ask is, “How can I help,” when I look at a situation where someone needs specialized training I asked, “How can I help.” I think if more people approached situations with “how can I help” rather than how can I join the problem it would be a better world.

What is your superpower?

If it’s a superpower, I would say mine is sharing knowledge. I’ve helped many people understand the risk they take every day and how to reduce the potential of harm to themselves or others, in the workplace or at home.

What organization or company do you really admire in terms of safety and health?

Two organizations that I admire for their efforts in safety are the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, and the Independent Billboard Operators, USA. These two groups have committed to promoting safety at all of their events to try to drive the message of employee safety all the way down to the lowest level in every advertising organization. My hat is off to both of them.

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