At a recent conference I attended, there was a paper describing an attempt to “manage” the risks involved in rock climbing. This highlighted the desire of climbers to push the boundaries to demonstrate mastery over evermore seemingly “unsafe” situations. (Solo unaided, unsupported climbs reliant only on the courage, skill and wit of the individual climber?). This was a somewhat paradoxical example of a person deliberately putting themselves “at risk” and … Continue Reading ››
In the weeks after the great Bunnings sausage saga of 2018 the outcry about just how silly some safety decisions are brought a wry smile to my face and has provided many with a humorous analogy on why we should focus on high consequence risk. Although I have seen a hot works permit and a safe work method statement for the site barbecue, thankfully almost all top tier construction companies have a focus on high consequence risk, be that … Continue Reading ››
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 so obvious. Yet it is light years away from how most organizations … Continue Reading ››
For 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 ››
My 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 ››
In early 2013 a group of Australian miners choreographed and performed their rendition of the ‘Harlem Shake’, a music video that has stimulated 100s of similar dances to be uploaded to YouTube. Deep underground, the miners dressed down some of their PPE and free styled in front of the camera.
When Barminco, the operator of the mine, learned about the dance venture, they sent a dismissal letter to 15 workers involved in the making of the video. … Continue Reading ››
Last year I attended a safety conference. The content was traditional: a heart wrenching accident story, a government representative showing statistics and explaining accident reduction goals, legal experts clarifying the latest regulatory advancements, and a corporate achiever informing about their program to get the workforce to comply.
Celebrating this managerial top-down approach, there were moral undertones and an air of scientific precision. The problem was ‘out there’. Clearly. It was possible to measure it, and to manage it by … Continue Reading ››
Recently, a friend of mine visited a construction site. The site was in the middle of nowhere, in the Australian outback, and my friend was there for a one day boardroom meeting. After the 1 hour site induction in a building near the gate, a group of six visitors left the building with their host. Walking over to the meeting room, the group had to cross a road. The host took out a form and said:
-I don’t see any … Continue Reading ››