Happy New Year

file000670714310250 individuals, from 20 countries, across 6 continents visited safetydifferently.com during its first month online (December 2012). In the week leading up to Christmas the site had 70-80 visitors per day. While the site at first was intended as a blog to share my personal contemplations and frustrations from working with safety, it quickly found a more functional form as a website to exchange critical and innovative safety thinking from a range of authors. This is also the … Continue Reading ››

The appification of safety

circuitryDuring a dinner with friends the other evening, the topic of conception was raised with one, who was pregnant, and ended up being a funny story around an iPad app. The app was used to track her menstrual cycle after going off the pill, where the cycle was mapped and would advise of ovulation and fertility periods. As the story goes, the app was tracking the cycle pretty well, but she still fell pregnant outside … Continue Reading ››

Safety is in the making

Are you easily bored?Creative material Are you willing to take risks? Don’t like rules? Do you ask “what if”? Do you make lots of mistakes? Do you collaborate? Are you generous? Are you independent? Do you experiment? Do you motivate yourself? Do you work hard? Are you passionate about safety? Okay, I changed the last one.  The above list has been adapted from the 12 Most Striking Tendencies of Creative People compiled by Kim Phillips.  But I think that it should be a list of the 12 Most … Continue Reading ››

Safety culture: Facts, fiction and faith

We know that safety cultures are not just created at the sharp end. For safety culture, we need to look deeper inside an organization—at its procedures, work practices, design, supervision, management, governance. This has been a very empowering idea, shifting our focus onto the context surrounding people's work. But it has also been accompanied by burgeoning safety bureaucracies. In pursuit of safety culture, we now expect organizations to deploy vast systems—loss prevention systems, safety management … Continue Reading ››

Instead of warnings

The kind and caring people of Starbucks don’t want me to scald myself with their coffee. So they have printed a warning on the lids of their take-away cups. CAUTION CONTENTS HOT. Apart from insulting their customers, this message is not very effective. It does not provide people with any clues about what is appropriate behaviour, apart from perhaps waiting, or to take the first sip cautiously. The warning probably protects Starbucks more than their clients. Traditional … Continue Reading ››

Cute but disempowering

Using cute animations and a catchy tune, Melbourne-based Metro Trains recently launched a public safety announcement. The video ‘Dumb ways to die’ immediately went viral on social media, breaking a long tradition of horrible safety videos showing people falling, heads cracked open, kids getting hit by cars, and so on. The fresh take aside, the message is not new. In fact, it conveys a very traditional message: that the system is safe, but sometimes gets … Continue Reading ››

From constraints to facilitation

 “Safety is boring. And it does my head in!” From the very start I could tell that my meeting with a top level manager of an Australian hospital was going to be interesting. “Don’t get me wrong! We have serious safety issues here. We occasionally do wrong side surgery. We chop off the wrong leg and we give out the wrong medicine. We have people falling out of bed at night, we mix up patients, there are depressed … Continue Reading ››

Misguided hazard hunts

Handstands, cartwheels, somersaults, and running on bitumen have recently been banned in a number of Australian schools. Obviously, this is done not because schools fear litigation should something go wrong, but because ‘they care about the kids’ safety’... Also, some schools now have risk registers for all their activities. Painting is apparently a “medium risk”, for which teachers should consider having the consent of primary caregivers. Reading about this made me think of when … Continue Reading ››

Instead of top down safety

Roads once belonged to pedestrians. The space was used for markets, cattle, horse wagons, dancing, or meetings. Perhaps modern days’ block parties, with their restricted traffic, give a taste of what roads once were in terms of a place for people. Then came the cars. At first they were slow, but nevertheless exciting and they quickly became fashionable. However, it was not long before the first collisions occurred between cars and pedestrians. The need for road safety … Continue Reading ››

Innovative and critical safety thinking