Tag Archives: safety practitioners

The Safety Profession can be like a Priesthood

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 anxieties and hopes even a post-secular world, and the credentialism of a new priesthood that is (self-)ordained to assuage and inspire those … Continue Reading ››

Speaking Truth to Power

  “They tell us to do these things, but they don’t want to know how we get them done.” Others in the focus group nodded in agreement. Myself, I was taken a bit aback by the statement. I was facilitating the focus group with the intention of learning about the organization and how it manages safety. We had been speaking with many of the line employees who expressed varying degrees of frustration with different aspects of the work environment, … Continue Reading ››

Yogi Berra’s 9 Best Quotes for Safety Professionals

yogi_berraP14One of the best catchers in Major League Baseball history, Yogi Berra, died Tuesday, September 22nd at the age of 90. Berra had a way with words, ironically while butchering the English language, and his statements were appropriately deemed “Yogi-isms”. Within a few of his quotes, laced with sharp wit, there are some important lessons for safety professionals and leaders across industry and discipline. “We made too many wrong mistakes.” This quote says much more than most six word … Continue Reading ››

3 Realities for Second Class Industries

class systemThe safety advancements in industries like aviation, nuclear power and healthcare have been nothing short of extraordinary. In many ways, these industries have become the shining examples of what safety should be. These areas are by no way perfect and have room for advancement but there is a tendency for progressive and innovative thinking to be specific to these industries. However, we have lost our way in thinking that these are the only agencies where innovation can occur. … Continue Reading ››

Empathy for the Devil

devilThe other night I attended a meeting of safety practitioners. This is your typical monthly meeting that local chapters of safety societies have – where we get together to network, eat typically mediocre food (admittedly, I’m a picky eater), and hear a presentation on some topic of interest to the safety industry. This particular presentation focused on an insider from the state regulatory body exposing the flaws in the current regulatory structure. The advertisement for the presentation … Continue Reading ››

Déformation professionnelle: How profession distorts perspective

167418602_4467a7bdd7If you work in a health and safety role, there is one question that can make for an awkward conversation: "So, what do you do?" I was asked this question at passport control on entering the UK on my Australian passport. I considered my options: safety specialist, ergonomist or psychologist. All three come with baggage; they trigger different preconceptions. As he was an immigration officer in the border security business, I replied "I'm a safety officer", modifying … Continue Reading ››

Goats in sheep pens

file0001763601813When I was younger, my family had a smallholding with a few animals including chickens, ducks, geese, and few goats - one or two billies and several nannies. Thinking back to these goats made me think about what they can teach us about work in command-and-control organisations. The characteristics of goats, especially curiosity, independence and foraging behaviour, highlight to me how command and control organisations need goat thinkers - constructive rebels including systems thinkers, design thinkers, and humanistic … Continue Reading ››

Behind the scenes

file000577928669The words 'risk taking' and 'safety professional' aren't often used together. Sure, we have heard the story of the safety professional who failed a site drug and alcohol test. The safety professional who didn't follow the working at heights procedure. Well, I'm not talking about these people or this type of risk taking. I think that we should be taking risks in safety. Safety is not going to improve if we keep doing the same things. How can we expect change if we aren't prepared … Continue Reading ››