Tag Archives: practice

Accountability up, or responsibility down?

file0001652481771A few years ago, I learnt of a woman who was slightly injured at work. She told her supervisor, showed the injury, and went to see the doctor that same afternoon. While in the waiting room, she got a call from school. Her son had fallen ill and been sent home. After her appointment and having her gash cleaned and glued by a nurse, she rushed home to take care of her boy. She later informed her … Continue Reading ››

Don’t shoot the messenger

file0001939915281“The sole objective of the investigation of an accident or incident shall be the prevention of accidents and incidents. It is not the purpose of this activity to apportion blame or liability.” Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention (ICAO, 2001) “… the report shall protect the anonymity of any individual involved in the accident or serious incident” (European Parliament and the Council, 2010). The report that is mentioned here is the final report of an investigating authority in … Continue Reading ››

The evil of roots

file0002103473231 Transportation officials said Wednesday that the driver of the Green Line train that crashed into another trolley docked at the Boylston Street Station last week was “solely responsible” for the accident and that he would be fired. Accidents are surprising. That which previously was trustworthy, suddenly no longer is. And the mismatch between expectations and actual performance calls for an explanation. To learn from failures organisations and societies institute accident investigations. The task of such probes is traditionally … Continue Reading ››

Two sides to every control

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been reading a thought-provoking book, Adapt (Why success always starts with failure) by Tim Harford.  While it isn't a book on safety there is much to learn from Tim.  He argues that today's challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinion.  The world has become far too unpredictable, and profoundly complex.  Tim argues that instead we must learn to adapt. He uses many real life events, strategies and organisations to illustrate his … 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 ››

It’s not what, but who you know

file000912049364It has been some 20 years since I was in the dating scene. And I am sure that in that time things have changed. But some things must have stayed the same. Sometimes you are lucky enough to meet an interesting person. Someone that you would like to spend time with, see where it leads. This is where you have a few options. One is to try to impress them, dazzle them with your personality, wow them … Continue Reading ››

Safety culture: Facts, fiction and faith

We know that safety cultures are not just created at the sharp end. For safety culture, we need to look deeper inside an organization—at its procedures, work practices, design, supervision, management, governance. This has been a very empowering idea, shifting our focus onto the context surrounding people's work. But it has also been accompanied by burgeoning safety bureaucracies. In pursuit of safety culture, we now expect organizations to deploy vast systems—loss prevention systems, safety management … Continue Reading ››

Instead of warnings

The kind and caring people of Starbucks don’t want me to scald myself with their coffee. So they have printed a warning on the lids of their take-away cups. CAUTION CONTENTS HOT. Apart from insulting their customers, this message is not very effective. It does not provide people with any clues about what is appropriate behaviour, apart from perhaps waiting, or to take the first sip cautiously. The warning probably protects Starbucks more than their clients. Traditional … Continue Reading ››