In the rare case that environmental, health and safety professionals ever forget the devastating real-life impact of a single safety incident, Kina Hart can drive home the matter when discussing the details of a workplace incident that resulted in the loss of her left arm.

Now a motivational and safety speaker, Kina recently shared her incredible story with 30 members of the Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) Leaders’ Network, a group of leading environmental, health and safety professionals from companies and institutions from across the Midwest.

In a compelling presentation at Thompson Coburn’s St. Louis office, Ms. Hart described the impact a single safety incident had on her, her company’s management, and her family. In discussing workplace safety practices and the potential cost of eschewing strenuous safety training, inspections, and compliance, Ms. Hart drove home the importance of each person taking personal responsibility for their own safety on the job.

While working in an Alaskan fish cannery between her sophomore and junior years in college, Ms. Hart lost her left arm while cleaning a conveyor. Inadequate training and a failure to properly lockout the conveyor — preventing movement while she was cleaning it — cost Ms. Hart her arm.

As Ms. Hart told described years of rehabilitation, pain in an arm that no longer exists, and the dramatic effect her injury had — not just on her life but those of her foreman and her family — it reinforced the need for safety considerations beyond basic compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.

Ms. Hart emphasized the critical need for every manager and employee to ensure that before performing a task, all parties confirm that the requested task is safe and follows procedure. Employees and management need to use critical thinking skills and pay attention to whether a particular task is, in fact, safe. And, if any party is not certain, it is imperative to stop, ask others, consult training manuals and operating instructions, and do whatever else is necessary to ensure the job will be performed safely.

Adhering to these practices will help ensure that a company is not only complying with OSHA requirements, but also instilling best practices and providing a safe workplace for all.