All posts by Daniel Hummerdal


Ron Gantt and I recently exchanged some emails with questions and ideas about what safety differently is. I post part of the conversation below, hoping to hear from readers about their take on what safety differently means are at and might go.   On 3 Dec 2014, at 12:54 am, Ron Gantt wrote: Hi Daniel,   I’ve been thinking about a potential post after an email discussion with Zinta about change and how much easier it is to define what we’re changing from than it is to define what we’re changing … Continue Reading ››

Stop start cards

IMG_2658A 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 ››

New reading resources

file0001746673147People: a problem or solution? In a newly crafted paper, Sidney Dekker describes two opposing ways of thinking about humans at work: Are employees a problem to be controlled, or a solution to be harnessed? Outlining the evolution of these two perspectives, as well as their respective consequences for how we see and manage safety, this paper is a handy and accessible primer for starting a safety differently conversation.  The paper is available under the resource tab above, … Continue Reading ››

What’s in a name?

safety differently picOn 1 December 1862, Abraham Lincoln addressed the US congress. His message was controversial  - it was about the emancipation of the enslaved workforce. He said: “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our … Continue Reading ››

Causalism, and the will to power

file000601579788The discussion was about pre-start meetings. A couple of workers had spoken up about the meetings as ineffective and confusing: After the pre-starts people could spend considerable time trying to figure out what they were supposed to do, and where, that particular day. What could be done to improve the effectiveness of these gatherings? As I listened to a group of 5-6 employees, I learned about the limited time available, the quantity of information to be transmitted to … 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 ››

What if we got it wrong?

file1851274688166People 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 ››

Let’s talk about success

spanner2Look at the man in the picture to the right. He is fastening a bolt using a spanner. To get more torque he has done what is common practice in industry – he has taken a piece of pipe to extend the handle, this is often called a cheater bar. Put differently, he has adapted the standard that was provided to him. When everything is going well we’d like to believe that it is because organisations … Continue Reading ››

Andrew Townsend

Townsend‘Daniel - Worldwide, "construction" is vilified because it has so many accidents. The focus is on analysing every accident to find out what went wrong and then fix it. I believe that this is the wrong approach. Given that in construction people and hazards are in a state of constant motion and close proximity, the question should be 'why do we have so few accidents?’ It was the first email I received through the contact form. It … Continue Reading ››