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Quality Creates...Perspective

A Goofus and Gallant Tale of EHS Management

Rachel Beavins Tracy
by Rachel Beavins Tracy on Thu, Aug 23, 2018

ehs_technologyWhen I was a kid, I loved reading Highlights magazine. It always had really solid knock-knock jokes there, as well as informative articles and fun craft projects.


But the best column by far was the Goofus and Gallant comic. The two characters are complete opposites when it comes to social skills in various situations. While Goofus takes the last cupcake, Gallant shares it with friends. When Goofus runs off after dinner, Gallant stays to wash dishes.


In today’s fun take on EHS management, we’ll look at what Goofus and Gallant might do in different situations in the workplace.



Goofus and Gallant are both EHS managers at different companies. Goofus stuffs all of his EHS documents and records in binders, sticking them on the top shelf of his bookcase in case regulators come calling. Once in awhile he gets around to filling out his OSHA 300 logs, hoping he’s provided just enough info to avoid scrutiny. Regulatory compliance? Check!


Gallant, on the other hand, uses automated EHS Software. He has a complete record of EHS activities housed in user-friendly system, including Incident Reporting software that automatically generates OSHA 300 logs.



One day, Goofus is trying to repair a piece of equipment when a bolt goes flying and nearly hits a coworker in the head.


“Whew!” Goofus says. “That was a close one!” Relieved, he goes on with his day. Two weeks later, another worker has the same problem, this time causing injury to an employee.


In another factory across town, one of Gallant’s employees escapes a close call when a nail gun sends a nail flying in an unintended direction. Gallant logs the near-miss in the Incident Reporting system, launching an investigation that reveals the nail gun operator lacked proper training and employees weren’t not wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).


Gallant takes appropriate Corrective Action to prevent recurrence, sharing lessons with the entire company to help avoid a similar situation in the future.


Safety Incidents

Goofus may be lax when it comes to near-misses, but not when it comes to actual safety incidents. One day, an employee is backing up a forklift when he runs over a coworker’s foot.


“You idiot!” Goofus screams as the ambulance pulls away. “I should fire you for being so careless!” An employee on the scene decides it’s not a good time to report an unsafe condition he’s observed, since it’s likely to lead to retaliation.


Gallant is also investigating a workplace injury that resulted from unsafe behavior. After conducting a root cause investigation, he calls the responsible individual into his office for a frank discussion. They evaluate what went wrong and the appropriate corrective action, with Gallant setting a clear but firm boundary that safe work is a condition of employment.


Employee Training

One of Goofus’s employees gets a notification from human resources that she is overdue for a required training. She isn’t supposed to operate a particular piece of equipment until she’s certified, but Goofus lets it slide for the moment because they really need to hit their monthly production target.


“Just do the computer module when you get a chance,” says Goofus, forgetting about it almost immediately after he’s said it.


On the other side of town, Gallant has been tracking employee training compliance as a predictor of safety and quality incidents. He notices that many incidents in one area resulting from operator error.


After reviewing the work instructions, he realizes the document needs to be updated, along with the employee training. His EHS system lets him automatically trigger a document review, and ultimately new training requirements.


Equipment Maintenance

Goofus hears a loud rattling sound from a piece of production equipment on the shop floor. He dashes off a work request to equipment maintenance and keeps going, telling anyone who asks about it that it’s being taken care of.


Unfortunately, he sends his email from someone who is on vacation, not bothering to follow up when he gets the out-of-office reply. Later that week, they have to scrap a whole batch of product due to equipment malfunction.


Gallant, however, decided long ago to automate equipment calibration and maintenance. He creates pre-set schedules for routine maintenance, setting up alerts for when action items are overdue. He also gets an automatic report from certain pieces of equipment so he can quickly investigate any anomalous results.


In the end, we’d all like to think we’re the Gallants of the EHS world, but safety culture still has a long way to go in many companies. A lot of us spent years working alongside Goofuses, so it’s up to each person to evaluate attitudes and behaviors to make sure you’re on the right path.

Best Practices Guide to Quality Management.

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Rachel Beavins Tracy
Rachel Tracy is a writer for ETQ with expertise in environmental, healthcare and technology topics. She has a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and has been writing for businesses since 2008.
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