Speaking Truth to Power

  “They tell us to do these things, but they don’t want to know how we get them done.” Others in the focus group nodded in agreement. Myself, I was taken a bit aback by the statement. I was facilitating the focus group with the intention of learning about the organization and how it manages safety. We had been speaking with many of the line employees who expressed varying degrees of frustration with different aspects of the work environment, … Continue Reading ››

Safety Management Systems – a different perspective

two speedA Safety Management System is supposed to be a systematic and proactive process for managing safety risks. Having a structured approach to safety management should complement and support good management, operational and human factors practices but the reality is usually very different. What can we say about safety management systems in the real world?
  1. Safety Management Systems are usually large, complex and difficult to access for the very people they are designed for.
  2. The emphasis on process deflects focus … Continue Reading ››

Safety policy – from compliance to desire driven

photo-1444460381791-02e0621c12f4As a safety professional the concepts of safety differently can be challenging at best. What if everything that you had built your career on was suddenly shaken to its very foundation? The task then becomes, how can I approach each day, each decision, differently? This is my challenge, and my opportunity.

As I was obsessing about Safety Differently a couple of years ago, a … Continue Reading ››

The Limits of Safety Differently?

DSCN5361I was having a discussion the other day with a colleague about how Safety Differently fits in different organizations. Some organizations we’ve encountered are hungry for something new. They realize that the same-old safety approaches are not getting them the results they would like and are actively seeking a different approach. Obviously these organizations are ripe for a discussion about Safety Differently. But what about others who, as some describe, are not as far along? For example, in … Continue Reading ››

Safety Differently @ Laing O’Rourke

treesfrombelowWhat have you done to enable safety differently in your organisation? In Laing O’Rourke we were very fortunate to have a leadership team that acknowledged our organisation’s health and safety performance had plateaued and were willing to explore and test new ways of working.   This was against the current industry approach to health and safety which we recognised as high in bureaucracy and overly controlling and sceptical in its approach to building trust amongst all … Continue Reading ››

Boxing and dancing – The challenges of enforcement in global shipping

shipIn recent years, the spread of inspections and other forms of enforcement (audits, surveys, vetting, assurance etc.) has reached a stage of ‘explosion’ in terms of both scope and frequency. There is a real concern that the enforcement regime, i.e. compliance with rules, regulations and industry standards, has fallen victim to its original intentions of managing safety risks. Many seafarers I have interviewed believe that onboard inspections are merely paying lip service to regulatory and commercial obligations … Continue Reading ››

Safety audits differently

auditSafety audits have become central to safety management and governance. However, many organisations have noted that safety audits may have limited usefulness and some problematic consequences. People I’ve spoken with have raised concerns that:
  • audits may not get a ‘true picture’ of what is going on
  • some projects suffer from audit overload
  • audits may damage cultures of trust
  • audits may drive a commitment to creating acceptable images of work, rather than improving the primary process that the audits are supposed to … Continue Reading ››

Rules – Who Needs Them?

d5bd2d6fMy grandfather was a Military Policeman in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. My father was a Royal Marine. I remember as a child seeing a clipping of an old article in a national newspaper with a large photograph of him captioning a story of their deployment in the Middle East. This made me very proud, but it never made me want to join up. My brother thought differently and he went on to … Continue Reading ››

Case study: Timing is everything; FRAM for train departures

photo-1415368893216-efb8c4fb04e0In this case study I would like to show a practical application of the Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM) to investigate the process of trains departing the station. The reason for analyzing this process, is that Signal Passed At Danger (SPAD) incidents have a specific category that deals with situations where this incident happens just after leaving the station. So in that case, the first signal seen from the station platform is passed while it shows … Continue Reading ››

Weak and invisible safety leadership?

photo-1444312645910-ffa973656ebaEvery now and then I meet people who claim that what is needed to improve safety is ‘strong and visible safety leadership’. I sort of get what they mean with ‘visible leadership’ (that leaders can be seen doing the right things), but the rest is confusing. Strong? How strong exactly? Strong in order to do what? What do you mean by ‘leadership’? And what do you mean by ‘safety’ anyway? Further exploration of the idea … Continue Reading ››

Innovative and critical safety thinking

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