Light bulbs, red lines and rotten onions

switchesIn January 2015, the pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) Hoegh Osaka developed a severe list on departing from Southampton, and was left stranded outside the port for more than 19 days. The official investigation revealed how decision making became the victim of production pressures. The vessel sailed from port without determining accurately the stability conditions upon completion of cargo. It was a routine practice to leave this task to be … Continue Reading ››

The case for small data

smallbigIt is reasonable for management to want evidence of a problem before they put resources into fixing it, and we would like to be evidence driven ourselves. All too often, though, we assume that having good data means having more data. We live in the time of Big data where the value of some companies is measured in terms of the size of the data set they hold. Our phones collect and report our habits, … Continue Reading ››

There’s no IP in safety – Yet…

14678529062951616575918For years the safety profession has espoused that there is no intellectual property in safety. This was seen a positive side-effect of the black and white ethical stance of the zero harm movement.  It has also been the most over-used excuse by safety professionals for adopting their previous employer’s methods in their next organisation, along with ‘why re-invent the wheel?’ and ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.   As safety professionals move through our relatively small industry, … Continue Reading ››

4 Ways to Eliminate Blame and Not Shift It

blame-someoneMany safety professionals may be supporting the proliferation of blame without knowing it. As we have found success in removing blame from the frontline operators, we have unintentionally redirected blame at the operational systems in which people work and their upper management. This needs to stop. The field of safety has come a long way in supporting frontline staff and taking a systemic focus on safety. This is of course supported by prominent works such as … Continue Reading ››

Flaps, Coffee Cups and NVG’s: A Tale of Two Safeties

  Adapt and OvercomeI recently read an aircraft accident report where a C-130J aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff. Reports state the accident was caused by a Night Vision Goggle (NVG) carrying case being placed in front of the aircraft control column to raise the elevator during cargo loading. Essentially, the crew was trying to raise a portion of the tail of the aircraft to make it easier to load bulky cargo. Apparently the crew forgot to remove … Continue Reading ››

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 ››

Innovative and critical safety thinking

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