Category Archives: Daniel Hummerdal

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 ››


file0001149983473“Go up there and spend some time.” The rather underspecified work assignment was exactly what I had been hoping for. For me, it was a chance to do safety differently. A month earlier I had carried out an incident investigation on the same site. I had used ICAM (Incident Cause Analysis Method), which is commonly used investigation methodology in the Australian construction industry. But using a tool designed to find holes in barriers had left me troubled. The … 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 ››

Sheep boosting

file0001889907229One morning in early June this year, a Swedish sheep farmer discovered that 21 of his sheep had been killed. The aggressor had taken only a small bite of each sheep before killing the next defenseless prey. Expertise identified the offender to be a wolf. Wolves in Sweden are frequently debated. Some suggest that wolves should be uncompromisingly hunted and 'eliminated'. This naturally upsets those advocating the necessity of biological diversity. In turn, these groups claim that the … Continue Reading ››

4 ways to embrace uncertainty

file0001342045157How 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 ››

Tinker, Taylor, Culture, Failure

file9001254174340 -When are managers and supervisors going to sign their commitment? The above question was raised when 30 or so workers were asked to read and sign their commitment to the organisational Safety Culture values. It happened during one of their fortnightly safety meetings. My presence was merely as an observer. -Well, we started with this level, and then we'll do supervisors' and managers' responsibilities as the next step, the safety supervisor replied. Individuals are different. By definition. Any one organisation … Continue Reading ››

Sex and poetry

file000500940833None of us said anything for a while. At the other end of the table was a safety manager for a construction company. I had just described some ideas on how to do safety differently. -No. What we need is to find the right way to do it. Once we have that, we’ll put it into practice across every project. I had tried to explain why safety can never be achieved with a one size fits all solution. And I had described why … 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 ››