Man Listening to Music Through Headphones

EHS Mixtape: The Soundtrack for Modern Health & Safety Leaders

October 9th, 2019

Novelist and poet Jack Kerouac once declared, “The only truth is music.”

It’s a sentiment with which many of us are inclined to agree. There’s something so deeply impactful about the way thoughts and ideas are conveyed through musical arrangements, that the words can often take on a deeper meaning, harnessing a higher truth.

Of course, not everyone romanticizes music in this way. For some, popping in our earbuds and pressing play is simply a way to mentally escape the day-to-day grind.

Whichever side you fall on, we’re confident that our customized mixtape for EHS leaders, featuring a compilation of “health and safety songs” that epitomize our daily duties, delights, and demands, will strike a comforting chord.

Without further ado, we give you the definitive EHS mixtape to help you tackle the aforementioned demands with an extra bounce in your step. Give it a spin (but only in a hazard-free environment where it’s safe to plug in and tune out, of course).

Why this mix? Below we highlight several of our mixtape selections for your reading, listening, and viewing enjoyment.

Songs About Safety: The EHS Leader’s Mixtape

“The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats

Released: 1982

Premise: Protest anthem against anti-dance authorities.

Best Line:

We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind

Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance

Well they are no friends of mine

No EHS mixtape would be complete without this staple. As a new dance style called “pogoing” gained popularity in the ‘80s, bouncers took exception to it and frequently asked club attendees to cut it out. “The Safety Dance” is a clapback against these naysayers, embracing the fun and letting the detractors know they can step aside. This message of solidarity resonates for EHS leaders focused on driving employee engagement and building a culture of safety. Other than pogoing, what’s more exciting than taking proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of our coworkers?!

“Careless Whisper” by George Michael

Released: 1984

Premise: Somber recollections of a lost relationship and the mistakes that severed it.

Best Line:

Time can never mend

The careless whispers of a good friend

To the heart and mind

Ignorance is kind

We’re mostly including this one for the epic saxophone solo, but it also calls to mind those deflating moments where we’ve come up short. Maybe you overlooked a critical detail in a rush, or maybe your zero-incident streak came to an end. These things happen to the best of us. All you can do is mellow out to George Michael’s crooning and get back on the horse.

“Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy

Released: 1981

Premise: Working hard so we can play hard.

Best Line:

Everyone's looking to see if it was you

Everyone wants you to come through

Everyone's hoping it'll all work out

Everyone's waiting they're holding out

No better way to re-energize after reflecting on the last song than putting on this classic power-pop ballad out of Canada. As an EHS leader, engaging our fellow employees is so utterly crucial. Whether it’s safely reaching the weekend, hitting an important milestone, or unlocking an incentive, the key lies in rallying everyone around a shared goal.

“Through the Wire” by Kanye West

Released: 2003

Premise: Reflecting on a near-death experience and the lessons learned.

Best Line:

If you could feel how my face felt you would know how Mase felt

Thank God I ain't too cool for the safe belt

Kanye’s breakout single was based on a true story, recounting the tale of how he had his jaw wired shut in the wake of a 2002 car accident. Hardly slowed by the setback, he rose to become one of the most (in)famous rappers in the world. The takeaway? Accidents sometimes happen for reasons that are beyond our control. All we can do is mitigate risk, learn from our mistakes, and take the right steps to ensure future safety when things go awry (as Mr. West raps, he might’ve had a much worse outcome if not for wearing a seatbelt).

“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson

Released: 2011

Premise: Uplifting pop ditty about rebounding from heartbreak.

Best Line:

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

Stand a little taller

Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone

While “Through the Wire” might’ve channeled the enduring wisdom of Friedrich Nietzsche — what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger — Clarkson’s resilient hit places the message front-and-center. In EHS, every incident can make us stronger going forward, because we are better prepared to plan around such possibilities and implement preventative measures. (Of course, it’s extremely beneficial to enlist the help of a seasoned EHS consulting partner who’s seen it all if you want to shorten the learning curve.)

“You Gotta Be” by Des’ree

Released: 1994

Premise: Forging ahead with strength and defiance.

Best Line:

The world keeps on spinning

Can't stop it, if you try to

The best part is danger staring you in the face

Our jobs are important, and the responsibility can sometimes weigh on us. In moments of self-doubt, we are wise to heed the wisdom of Des’ree, “You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser / You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger / You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together.” These are the traits of an EHS leader who inspires confidence and handles anything that comes his or her way with aplomb. When danger stares us in the face, we confront it head-on.

“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk

Released: 2001

Premise: It is advisable to work harder, better, faster, and stronger.

Best Line:

Work it harder

Make it better

Do it faster

Makes us stronger

When we cite the “Best Line” from this techno riff, we’re really citing the only line. It’s a very simple song with a very simple message — one that speaks to constant improvement and efficiency-building. Work smarter — by partnering with the right folks, engaging strategic stakeholders, and incorporating innovative solutions — and you’ll find that your output is better, stronger, and faster.

“Perfect Day” by Lou Reed

Released: 1972

Premise: Musing about a lovely day spent in Central Park with his lady.

Best Line:

Oh, it's such a perfect day

I'm glad I spent it with you

Oh, such a perfect day

Let’s close our highlight reel out with a smooth, silky, upbeat song about an aspiration that’s relatable to all of us: the perfect day. In Reed’s case, that meant drinking Sangria in the park and feeding animals at the zoo. In the EHS world, it means a smooth day of business with no hitches, accidents, or preventable safety slip-ups. These perfect days are not coincidental — they are the result of smart EHS practices that you’ve been able to successfully actualize, making them all the more sweet.

Press Play on These Songs About Safety, Planning, and Tenacity

Each of these health-and-safety-inspired songs carries its own truths, whether applied to EHS leadership or living life at large. Health and safety in the workplace is a serious matter, but it can also be fun, and we can excel with it by encouraging teamwork, learning everyday, and partnering with experts who can help guide us to good decision-making.

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