What does rap music and industrial safety have in common? To Bob Allen, Tim Ryan and Leo Bartoski of ITT Corp., Morton Grove, Ill., rap is a vehicle to promote their message of workplace safety.
Allen is a production supervisor in the domestic pump factory and a member of the emergency response team. Ryan serves as the UAW Local 890 safety representative at the ITT Morton Grove facility in addition to his duties as warehouse attendant in the domestic pump warehouse. Bartoski is also a UAW Local 890 member and an electromechanical assembler in the domestic pump factory.
Bartoski thought that music might be a fun way to communicate a strong safety message. Ryan and Allen agreed and the three began to write the lyrics to the “Industrial Safety Rap.” They drew from their combined 60 years of industrial experience and wrote the lyrics in about one hour. The lyric in the rap about Captain Hook was included in honor of Ryan’s father-in-law, Julius “Hook” Gartner, who worked as a crane operator (thus the nickname Hook) at the ITT facility for more than 45 years.
Bartoski knew that they did not have the skills to put the words to music so he asked his nephews, Greg and Tony Okal, to record the rap. Both Greg and Tony are business majors at Loyola University Chicago and have been involved in acting and music for a number of years. Although the Okal brothers are not rap fans nor rap artists, they arranged and recorded the song in their basement studio. The result is the “Industrial Safety Rap” that so far has had more than 63,000 hits on its MySpace page and has received air-time on several labor radio stations. It can be viewed at www.myspace.com/industrialsafety.