All posts by Daniel Hummerdal

From deficits to possibilities

reflectionThere is something disturbingly negative about safety. And I believe there are three main reasons for this. The first reason is that safety is connected to unwanted outcomes. When most people think about safety they think about (the need to prevent) incidents, illnesses, injuries, disasters, breakdowns, losses, damage and other negatives. So, when we talk about safety, which is something we desire, we bring up the things that we don’t want to happen. Second, … 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 ››

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 ››

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 ››

People are the solution

peoplearethesolutionI once ran some focus groups on a mine site. The goal was to identify conditions that made work difficult. One of the issues that the workforce identified was that “Work is difficult when you drive at night and you can’t see signage, rocks, and other traffic”. After having presented this and other findings to the project employees during a prestart meeting, one of the truckies came up to me and said: “Let me know if you … Continue Reading ››

Love safety

normal_Love-locks_on_Arts_brige_in_Paris_-_03As a symbol for their unbreakable love, couples began attaching so called ‘love locks’ to the bridge Pont des Arts, in Paris. They would write their initials on the lock, fasten it to the railing, and throw the key into la Seine flowing underneath. Over time, the number of locks on the bridge became in the tens of thousands, with as many keys slowly dissolving at the bottom of the river. Last year, one of the railings couldn’t … Continue Reading ››

0 to 100 in 2.5 years

file000703909240In the beginning, Zinta Satins suggested that I should start a safety website. “Because more people could and should be part of these discussions” she explained. She and I used to have daily debates and discussions, in particular about safety in design. We were both fed up with the available boring, lifeless compliance based approaches. So we discussed, refined, disagreed, drew on paper and dreamt of a world in which safety methods enabled people to achieve great outcomes. … Continue Reading ››

If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway

Ring Spanners-Can you tell me about a situation when work is difficult around here? The group of construction workers at first seemed startled by the question, but clearly interested in engaging. Somewhat hesitantly one of them disclosed that they had problems with the availability of tools on site. It wasn’t perhaps that work was difficult to perform, but it was frustrating to spend ‘hours every day’ looking for tools. Some of the other participants joined in and explained … Continue Reading ››

Safetydifferentlydifferently?

Ron Gantt and I recently exchanged some emails with questions and ideas about what safety differently is. I post part of the conversation below, hoping to hear from readers about their take on what safety differently means are at and might go.   On 3 Dec 2014, at 12:54 am, Ron Gantt wrote: Hi Daniel,   I’ve been thinking about a potential post after an email discussion with Zinta about change and how much easier it is to define what we’re changing from than it is to define what we’re changing … Continue Reading ››

Stop start cards

IMG_2658A mechanic once burnt his hand so badly he had to seek hospital care. While at the hospital, two managers from his workplace showed up. They wanted to find out if he had completed a ‘start card’. Fortunately, he had filled one out so all was good. As he retold me the event, it was clear that their request had upset him. The managers had been interested in the paperwork, and not the state of his hand. Or … Continue Reading ››