Lets Try Sense Based Safety
By Phil La Duke on his blog – READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE HERE
Phil shares our same concerns over the proliferation of silver bullet, snake oil and the “next big thing” salesmen and reminds us of the 10 absolute truths about safety – GOLD!
I belong to 50 LinkedIn groups and I am active in each of them. They range from groups catering to trainers and industrial designers to those focusing on specific industries in which I work. The vast majority of those groups have one thing or another to do with worker safety. Each day my in box is blown up by multiple emails from LinkedIn. Some update me that one of my contacts has a new job or work anniversary while others announced the topic d’jour in one or more (mostly more) discussion threads, and increasingly the topic is centered around (fill-in-the-blank) based safety. Since a cadre of companies made millions shilling Behavior-Based Safety and since the shine is off BBS, at least in some circles, saints and snake-oil salesmen alike are clamouring to create the next big thing. I’ve seen proponents of Culture-Based Safety, Process-Based Safety (not to be confused with Process Safety) Values-Based Safety, Ethics Based Safety, Respect Based Safety, Change Based Safety, and more; it’s exhausting, and what’s more, it might be dangerous.
I like to think that I try not to get in the way of someone trying to make a buck, but when it comes to safety selling a system that you just “thunk up” without research or at very least having successfully implemented it somewhere else puts people at risk. I warn you, dear reader, that I am in a cranky mood, even for me, and my patience is just about shot. I’ve spent the better part of the last two months travelling relentlessly doing, what may come as a shock to many of you, actual work in the field of safety. It gives me a lot of hotel time where I can read about the latest fad masquerading as safety science in the threads.
Why can’t we just agree on a “sense-based” approach to safety? Do we need a complex model to lower our risk and make the work place safer? (Apart for lining the pockets of safety consultants who attach themselves tick-like on the soft, white underbelly of commerce) why do we have to reinvent the wheel every 6 months?
I’m not talking about leaving the safety of the worker in the hands of “common sense”. I’ve written reams about how there is no such thing as common sense and the more of the dribble I read in the discussion forums makes me believe not only isn’t there common sense, there isn’t all that much uncommon sense either.
We don’t agree on basic terminology of our trade for crying out loud, words like “safety”, “hazard”, “injury”, “incident” all seem to be subject to a public debate; it wearies the soul.
So what is so horribly wrong with approaching safety in a way that makes sense based on, it least in my arrogant opinion would be some universal truths about safety: (READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE HERE To see these truths expanded upon)
- No one wants to get hurt.
- Your processes aren’t supposed to hurt people.
- People Make Mistakes.
- Punishing People For Making Mistakes Drives Errors Underground.
- Absolute Focus On a Task For a Prolonged Period Is Impossible.
- Incentives for Zero Injuries Lead to Zero Reporting.
- Competence Is Key.
- The Absence of Injury Does Not Denote The Presence Of Safety.
- We Can’t Prevent Everything But We Can Always Mitigate The Risk.
- Most of us don’t have a clue how to interpret indicators
Last week a lot of people reading this returned home from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) conference in Orlando with their heads stuffed with new ideas about how to reengineer the safety function. Some of them may have gotten a legitimately good idea or two. Many others are preparing to embark on the latest flavor of quackery. All I am asking is for of you to think twice before getting swept up in the latest safety hustle. We are after all, stewards of the funds with which the company have entrusted us; try not to waste it on snake oil.