I coined the term ‘Safety Differently’ in 2012. It was the header of an email I sent to a motley group of company representatives—from Laing O’Rourke, Sunstate Cement, Queensland Rail, Origin Energy and others. I had newly arrived in Australia and had been approached by them to help critically examine the sense of safety ‘getting … Continue reading I am not a policy wonk
by Josh Bryant Mitchell Services, which performs drilling and other earthworks jobs for a range of different clients, has implemented ‘Safety Differently.’ At the bottom of the post is a film they submitted as part of a nomination for a safety award which introduces their approach. 1: What was the work health and safety performance issue? … Continue reading From the ‘how’ to the ‘what’ of Safety Differently — Mitchell Services Case Study
An able seaman has been ‘reprimanded’ for leaving the gangway hanging out while the vessel was shifting berth. Root cause – ‘lack of awareness’; corrective action – ‘risk assessment’. A third officer has been served a warning letter for missing out on monthly checks on a fire extinguisher resulting in non-conformance during a safety audit. … Continue reading Turning Apples into Bananas: How Big Data undermines safety and what can be done about it?
In his 2014 Safety I and Safety II: The past and future of safety management, Erik Hollnagel makes the argument that we should not (just) try to stop things from going wrong. Instead, we need to understand why most things go right, and then ensure that as much as possible indeed goes right. It seems … Continue reading Why do things go right?
In our rush to judgment we rarely intend to do harm. Often, we react to incomplete or even scant information, fit it into our own mental model of how things should be and then jump to conclusions that could inflict harm. Last week, CBS Morning News showed a film clip of a man snagging a … Continue reading Rush to judgment
I spoke at the Oil and Gas Task Force Zero conference 2018 not long ago. Taking the motto of the conference, “Face the Facts,” to heart, I walked the audience through a bunch of recent data from a range of industries on the relationship between injuries/incidents and fatalities. As we have long known (and as … Continue reading Oil and gas safety in a post-truth world
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” The above quote, allegedly from psychologist Viktor Frankl*, highlights that while we cannot control what happens to us, we can still direct and influence what and who we … Continue reading Failure differently
Sir’, he said in a pale voice. ‘It was 59 degrees in the engine room that afternoon and I took my helmet off. Not for too long, sir, just a few minutes. I was standing under the blower to cool my head. And then this safety officer comes to me and starts shouting. “Why are … Continue reading Personal protective equipment: Managing safety or exercising control?
Lincoln Eldrige, who probably wouldn’t want to be called a ‘safety professional,’ suggested to me some years ago that the safety profession is like a priesthood. I have always considered this an intriguing assertion, and finally decided to dig into it a bit more. What I found was fascinating parallels between belief systems that manage … Continue reading The Safety Profession can be like a Priesthood
Understanding and improving human work is relevant to most people in the world, and a number of professions are dedicated to improving human work (e.g. human factors/ergonomics, quality management, industrial/work/organizational psychology; management science). The trouble with many of these professions is that the language and methods mystify rather than demystify. Work becomes something incomprehensible and … Continue reading The varieties of human work