It all started with a number. The number Zero. After working 10 years in the safety business, putting everything I had learnt into practice, I started to feel unmotivated – it just didn’t make sense. I felt that it was more important that I was doing the mechanics of the tools than to actually make a change. The metrics counted the number of investigations, risk assessment, injuries, near-misses etc. Even when I moved to focus more on safety culture, the mechanics seemed to be more important than the actual culture itself. I was repeatedly asked to provide a metric for safety culture, but I argued against measuring culture. I felt that I was in constant conflict with management, because I questioned what and how we did things.
When management introduced the safety program of “Quest for Zero” I finally came to a halt. My whole being said “No”, I simply refused to use those words. “Why” – I asked myself – “Why do I feel so strongly about this?”
I started my own quest- not for zero, but to understand my “allergic reaction” to the concept of using zero in safety. I found this blog site and read articles on the subject “why zero doesn’t work in safety”. I felt an inner satisfaction of relief and impatience. I had finally found some hope in response to my symptoms and I wanted to read more. Relief, I wasn’t weird, nor were my arguments off and strange – I just hadn’t found my basis until now.
The Social Psychology of Risk gave me a sense of belonging and a peace of mind. I wrote a ‘thank you’- note to the author, Dr Rob Long, for giving me a foundation to support my inner voice of reasoning. Once the classes became available for on-line international students I was in. I took the introduction to Social Psychology of Risk and slowly my whole being started to shift; the meaning of words and symbols became so clear and my whole language changed. My confidence grew stronger and stronger in my relation with others; both at work and in life in general.
The way I practice safety now has changed significantly. I have been given three perspectives to keep a conversation, and I listen more intently to what words are used and hidden meanings. I have been sensitized to what symbols, words and colours communicate and have gained an understanding how these talk to my unconscious; both in a positive and negative sense. The greatest lesson of all in this learning journey is realizing how much more there is to learn. My quest for meaning has just started and all the people I have met on this exploration has shown me how important it is to never ever stop being curious about other people and what they can teach me.