A recent plea, from a frustrated Safety Professional on a Facebook forum, sparked a very interesting discussion. I have certainly seen many similar comments on this blog over the years and I am sure most of us have felt this way many times in our careers. Many search desperately for answers that confirm their beliefs and/or reject or avoid those which seem to be a mismatch for their expectations. Some (ie the Authors on this blog) have adjusted their views and changed their beliefs (see more about Cognitive Dissonance and the bottom of this post and what I just said will seem clearer…..).
Here is the initial comment:
“Hi all. I’ve been part of this group for a while, but never posted. I’ve seen plenty of criticism of specific safety campaigns and workplaces not doing safety well. What I haven’t seen are many examples of things that are working well and could be shared with the safety community for inspiration. I’m not talking about articles or links to websites, concepts from consultants or things unrelated to safety. I’d love to see what my fellow safety professionals are up to, in your workplace, in real time. Inspire me…”
This is a summary of some of the many responses:
- Challenging the status quo. Being curious about why they do it the way they do it and eliciting their understanding of the risk rather than telling them. Getting groups to understand each other’s perspective.
- One of the messages I’m sharing with my clients is the term conversation, the importance of having a conversation with workers and managers about risk and the ways that we control risk. avoiding telling people and do more asking. Unfortunately we still need to satisfy inspectors evaluators etc. so many of the traditional things still need to be done, but if we can make the workers understand the whys better then hopefully we open up their minds to alternatives.
- For myself, I started with Rob Long back when I was a HSE Manager, for a long time I had been working with great people but always struggled with what behavioural safety was, but knew that system based safety wasn’t the whole answer. So this group is very handy for learning a different perspective. I would like to be a bridge between traditional and process safety and help organisations work towards being high reliability organisations – if that is even possible.
- I definitely feel where you’re coming from; however, don’t be disheartened, the group is just trying to figure out a better way forward while being confronted by fairly entrenched views in the industry. As long as we continue to treat each other as people and not objects we will get there!
- I too am looking into technology to see how that can be used going forward. I think the industry is currently going through a bit of a shift. “Systems/ Paperwork” that was put in place to meet legislative requirements has now become outdated and bigger than Ben Hur and not what was intended.
- the evidence of the safety industry is there to see…….. and the evidence for dumb down in the industry is everywhere. If people in the group are up for learning and challenge, happy to move forward but not here. Social media is not a media for learning.
- interesting post you have made. I have been reading Rob Long and others on SPoR for3 years before starting studying with them this year. My reading material has changed entirely. My perspective on art and music has changed since i started associating with this mob of wonderful people. But in turn i have questions for you. How do you greet people in your workplace? Have you tried “Unconditional Positive Regard”? What traditional safety models are you questioning the validity of? My inspiration comes from within me, because this is my “Grand Adventure”
- Unfortunately safety is not a profession and there is much lack of thinking in the sector to even listen to the positives and examples of the strategies etc
- I have been moving away fro using checklists during inspections to engaging with others asking questions and being more focused to my surrounds. I have also been more focused on engaging with and listening to others rather than jumping to solutions.
- The beauty of this is that there is no distinct strategy, method, formula, technique or things that you “do” – it’s all about critical thinking, unlearning, conversation, empathy and moving out of workspace mode and into headspace and group space considerations. The thing that works best for me is not talking about “safety” any more
- Rather than trying to emulate the unique situations of others and shifting paradigms overnight perhaps we should start by interrogating the trajectories and by-products of what WE are currently doing in our own backyard?
- There is no ‘plug and play’ in SPoR, because risk is a wicked problem. So, the critique of the SPoR tradition draws us to a different way of tackling risk.
- Hard for some to end the crusade for the silver bullet – we know that because we have all been there
- I know some things that have worked at one company failed spectacularly at another. Diverse learnings, diverse problems, diverse solutions
- I welcome your post and I think you are spot on. I would love to see examples of inspiration to draw from instead of putting organisations down. Perhaps Rob and others from this group would like to share what they are doing in industry that is working well – as you say you are flat out.
- What is inspiration? Where does it come from? Is it lasting?
- Sometimes I am motivated by ideas of what I can stop doing – plenty of clues on this forum about that. You have to do that anyway – to make way for better ideas (unlearning).
- This also leads to some of the assumptions in your question, especially about ‘safety’. I find no inspiration at all in the industry of safety, none. It is one of the most toxic philosophically empty disciplines I have ever encountered.
Like to add your thoughts or ideas???? (there are plenty of Positive Safety Stories and Ideas on this blog)
This is an extract from the book Following-Leading In Risk by Dr Rob Long (Download a free copy here) which provides a very good summary of the concept of Cognitive Dissonance.
More detailed information and discussion on the impacts of cognitive dissonance in the workplace here: https://safetyrisk.net/impacts-of-cognitive-dissonance-in-the-workplace/