Safety 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 ››
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 a land far, far away a very long time ago someone had an idea and tried to do something different with safety.
For my sins I started my career in safety working for the UK government. To be fair this was back in the 70s and 80s when the 1974 Robens inspired Act was starting to be felt and the proposed legislation on major hazard sites would see the end of the prescriptive nature … Continue Reading ››
Pembroke Refinery is an oil processing facility on the Milford Haven Waterway, in Wales. It was the site of a multiple-fatality explosion in 2011, and the grounding of the Sea Empress in 1996, releasing a major oil spill into Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Prior to both of these events, Pembroke Refinery made national headlines with another explosion and fire, fortunately non-fatal.
Early on the morning of 24th July, 1994, there was a dry electrical storm raging above the … Continue Reading ››
A 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 ››
I am constantly amused and perturbed by the unintentional irony that many safety professionals surround themselves with when discussing issues of our profession and the paradoxes they create. So much so that I decided to do a little social experiment of my own. Certainly not on the scale of Facebook but interesting none the less. I had the opportunity to interview a number of candidates for senior safety roles and decided that I would base my questions … Continue Reading ››
Not a day goes past without me being reminded about the traits of good leaders. We are bombarded by photos and quotes of so called good leaders on social media. Human Resource Departments thrive on leadership and aspirational programs. But we all can’t be leaders, there has to be a disproportionate number of good followers. If we didn’t have this discrepancy the corporate, industrial and political world would cave in under the strain of everyone wanting to … Continue Reading ››
People don’t come to work to be safe. They come to work to work. Or as a project manager once told me:
-I probably spend about 50% of my day thinking about behaviours and safety. You probably close to 100% of yours. But what about the guys doing the job? We remind them of safety messages and what we think is important during pre-start meetings and toolbox talks. But then what? Then they’re off, focusing on other things. … Continue Reading ››
I am just about to publish a book on safety. Many of my volunteer reviewers around the globe have commented that is very little about me in it and ask why I write the way I do. I will dodge the requests for an in depth analysis of my psyche and answer with one word ‘heraith’ (pronounced ‘here-eye-th’).
Heraith is a Welsh word that originally meant a longing for one’s mother country but has come to mean a … Continue Reading ››
How can we know that we are safe? Facing complex situations and an undefined future requires an idea about the mechanisms that keep harm at bay. However, the ambiguity of the present and uncertainty of the future leaves wide latitude for interpretations and inferences. Consequently, people rely on a variety of understandings and ways of being in relation to safety.
The groups below are not mutually exclusive, nor is it an exhaustive list. My preference will be obvious, … Continue Reading ››