The Great Pumpkin Approach to Safety

October 31, 2017
Home & Family

I recently watched the “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” with my kids. If you have not seen it, you should; not only because it is a classic, but because it is a great metaphor for how many management teams view safety. If you are unfamiliar with the cartoon, the Great Pumpkin is a mythical character who is never seen. The existence of the Great Pumpkin is a strongly held belief by Linus, who may be the most intelligent of the Peanuts crew… but also the most gullible.

The delusional elementary-schooler expresses his unwavering dedication to a massive flying squash plant that will somehow, despite having no arms, legs, or human qualities, deliver presents on Halloween night to children who have been good. What does Linus get in return for the devotion to the mythical orange figure? He gets to sleep outside alone, in a totally empty pumpkin patch.

It struck me that the blind faith Linus has, has a lot in common with some old-school safety beliefs I have encountered. There are safety professionals who confess to prescribed faith and cannot question its axioms - but safety is a profession that is ever changing, based in science. Today’s technology only adds to our ability to punch holes in dogma-ridden rituals and beliefs. I’ve learned that I should never be threatened by having my beliefs about safety practices questioned or challenged - instead I see these as thought-provoking opportunities to learn and grow.

So, while sleeping in an empty pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Safety Pumpkin to arrive is certainly one way to approach the job of a safety professional, it’s this safety professional’s opinion that blind faith never kept anyone safer.

Josh Densberger

Josh began his career as a Firefighter for the Orange County Fire Rescue Department in Florida. He taught the principles of fire science and safety at Seminole State College. He held the position of Corporate Safety Director at Waste Pro, and is currently Corporate Safety Manager at MSE Group. Josh earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The University of Wyoming and a Master’s degree in Fire and Emergency Management from Oklahoma State University.

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