Tag Archives: top-down

4 Ways to Eliminate Blame and Not Shift It

blame-someoneMany safety professionals may be supporting the proliferation of blame without knowing it. As we have found success in removing blame from the frontline operators, we have unintentionally redirected blame at the operational systems in which people work and their upper management. This needs to stop. The field of safety has come a long way in supporting frontline staff and taking a systemic focus on safety. This is of course supported by prominent works such as … Continue Reading ››

Lean, Green Safety Machine – Part 1

cambodiaWith spring (March to May) in Afghanistan comes the fighting season. As the mountain snow recedes, Afghani tribesmen are once again able to move around the mountains and through the mountain passes. Traditionally the tribesmen have used the improved conditions of the fighting season to settle blood feuds and harass invading forces. In the current conflict the target of the tribesmen’s wrath has been the coalition forces and those Afghanis who support them. As the 2010 fighting … Continue Reading ››

Paper tigers

file0001384040598I 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 ››

Safety journeys: Are we there yet?

file0001207248003There is a lot of talk about safety journeys these days. During a recent conference workshop, attendees were asked to mark where their organisations were along a ‘safety culture maturity scale’. Equipped with this ‘knowledge’ from asking ‘where are we now?’ and ‘where do we want to be?’ people could allegedly analyse the gap. But also, many managers and decision-makers make frequent use of ‘safety journey’ in explaining current and future developments. The journey is of course … Continue Reading ››

The cost of behavioural transactions

SONY DSCSome workplaces I have visited use so called ‘scratchies’ to encourage and reward ‘safe behaviours’. Managers typically hand out such lottery tickets to employees who report hazards, come up with improvement ideas, or have filled out a risk assessment card in an exemplary way. Some workplaces have been known to give out rewards to drive more generic performance, such as giving everyone a toaster when passing 500 days without a Lost Time Injury. Reward schemes like … Continue Reading ››

The quality of quantity

file000401942226As a scientist, Francis Galton had two main interests. Mental abilities, and breeding. He was convinced that both were needed to maintain strong societies. His studies made him realise: ‘Stupidity and wrong-headedness of many men and women being so great as to be scarcely credible’. The solution was, according to Sir Galton, to give control to a selected few, but brilliant individuals. The hope for society was to keep the degenerate stock at bay. One day in … Continue Reading ››

Tinker, Taylor…

The old English nursery rhyme "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor" was adapted as title for John LeCarre's 1974 spy novel. Its main character, George Smiley, first fired, then reinstated, is the Beggar Man of the rhyme. At some point, he is involved in an operation called "Witchcraft", forcing a Soviet mole to reveal his identity. Smiley, naturally, becomes the hero. I have often written of a hero of our engineered world, Isaac Newton. He, after all, conceived of a world of laws and determinacy, a predictable world … Continue Reading ››

From the road less travelled

file000555565239-Analysis showed that 82-94% of our accidents and incidents were caused by ‘unsafe acts’. So the question was ‘how can we get our workers more motivated to do the right thing?’ Phil Stephenson, the Vice president for Health, Safety, Loss prevention & Security at Newmont Mining Corporation, had just started describing their journey to improving safety. For a few years Newmont Mining had noted that they were unable to take their safety records to the next level. They … Continue Reading ››

Humans – The strongest link

file000155942936The typical focus in safety is that the human being is our weakest link in safety. But they are indeed the strongest: naturally equipped to deal with risks dynamically, and with incredible risk skills... We just need to unleash that capability... The traditional focus on the human, in the context of safety, is that the human being is the weak link, the hazard, the ‘error maker’. A safety conference where the human being is not pointed out as the key … Continue Reading ››

Step toward collaboration

DSC_0390_Iván_Melenchón_Serrano_MorgueFileLast 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 ››