Tag Archives: bottom-up


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 ››


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 ››

Walk or talk?

P4010080I’m not sure whether it was my presence as a corporate representative, but the group ended up unusually large. It comprised our site safety manager, the client’s safety manager, the client’s client’s safety manager, and the site superintendent. We must have reached a critical mass because the site manager joined as well, and so did two other visitors from corporate. The task ahead was to do a Safety Walk. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a … 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 ››

Hot spots

file000485067262Do you believe in coincidental meetings?  I do.  I love the fact that you never know where a conversation could lead.  I love the potential.  And I don't mean in a 'When Harry met Sally' kind of way.  I am talking about the possibility of the spark of a new idea.  What I am talking about is Hot Spots. I first saw Professor Lynda Gratton when I attended a HR Conference in 2008.  She told the most wonderful story about chocolate deodorant when presenting on Hot Spots. … 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 ››

Lessons from the UK’s Peak District

file000767648536Question – What have limestone quarries in the UK’s Yorkshire and Derbyshire, and Health & Safety got in common? Answer – Apart from silicosis (which has now been addressed by wet cutting techniques), they have absolutely nothing in common. One produces a range of tough resilient building materials generically referred to as ‘aggregates’; the other produces a bland compliant uniform and weak structure. But before reaching fingers to keyboard in protest at such an outlandish comparison, please take time … 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 ››