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About this Video


This is an excerpt of John Sumser’s popular keynote presentation at The HR Tech Conference & Exposition in the Fall of 2020.


In this clip, John Sumser walks through the historical demise of the HR Safety Department and its subsequent rise during the pandemic when health and safety returned as HR’s top priority.


I’d love to hear your thoughts about the discussion we had in the interview. Post your comments on or my YouTube Channel »




Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused (or extremely confused) and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation and let us know if you find something wrong and we’ll get it fixed right away. Thank you for your understanding.


JS – John Sumser, Principal Analyst, HRExaminer


[00:00:04] I want to tell you the story about what happened to safety departments. When farmers came from the fields to work in factories, essentially every factory had a medical department, because if you went to work in a factory, you could cut off a finger or poke out your eye or lose a foot or get killed.


[00:00:23] And so there needed to be some sort of medical attention in the heart of every factory as we. Turned the factory idea into offices. And it’s worth noting here that the basic theory of an office is that it’s a kind of factory and the basic theory of workflow, the idea that a workflow is how you get things done is exactly applying factory principles to work.


[00:00:52] But what happened is the work got more intellectual and more about moving information and giving information. And so there wasn’t any real need for a safety office and the company nurse and the company doctor went the way of the Dodo. And now there are very few places that have safety offices, but what happens with the pandemic because there’s so little that we know is the pandemic restores it to the primary HR function.



Watch more of John’s talks on his YouTube Channel »

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