Originally posted on October 30, 2021 @ 4:50 PM
No Time to Walk, No Time for Conversation
I often get opportunity to chat to safety people about their work in safety. Many write to me about what they are expected to do by their organisations compared to what they think they should be doing. Most are caught up in excessive paperwork, needless meetings and administration. Many wish they could just walk the job, listen to people and help others in the way they tackle risk.
Sadly, this is not where organisations place their interest when it comes to safety or the work of safety people. The mythology of paper systems is all pervasive. Closed systems remain the norm and open systems are relegated to unimportance (https://safetyrisk.net/balancing-open-and-closed-systems-in-risk/). This is astounding because this is not how the legal and court system think about risk. Due Diligence is not about audit reports, inspections or paper systems, Due Diligence is about human judgment and decision making in risk (https://vimeo.com/162493843 ).
I was talking this week to a safety person with over 20 year’s experience who was working on a Tier 1 mine site, and had been in the job 12 months and had only had time to walk the job 4 times. I met a safety person once in manufacturing who had never walked the floor in 10 years in the job.
From all my conversations with safety people this seems to be the norm. Apparently, the best safety on site is achieved by sitting in front of a computer screen or an ipad in the field. No wonder companies like SafetyCulture (that have nothing to do with safety or culture) have become come very profitable off checklists and checklist apps. The success of iAuditor is an indictment of the industry.
The completion of checklists is not a demonstration of safety (https://vimeo.com/162034157 ). Indeed, the popular safety activity of downloading templates (https://safetyrisk.net/the-seduction-of-templates-set-and-forget/ ) demonstrates the insecurities of an industry deluded into thinking that the purpose of safety is the completion of paperwork.
One of the reasons why the safety industry is so tied to templates and paperwork is because the safety curriculum teaches people to have no confidence in their own ability to understand safety. Imagine going out on site with no checklist, no audit and no iAuditor app – just listening to people, building relationship and understanding what makes people tick. Why is this a revolutionary idea?
The safety curriculum and dominant safety mythology has indoctrinated safety people to not trust themselves or their own abilities. No, the best thing to do is to download templates designed by someone else who is supposedly an expert in legislation and regulation (when they are not).
When you download someone else’s method of risk you are also committing to their methodology hidden in the design of their method. Most often these templates are designed by engineers who have no cognizance of human judgement and decision making. Many of these forms and checklists are focused on objects NOT subjects. And yet if something goes wrong very little of this will be of any help (https://vimeo.com/163784444 ) .
Whenever we undertake iCue Engagement education people are amazed at the effectiveness of NOT being locked into a checklist.
Just imagine how much time Safety would have if it ditched 80% of this junk that adds no value to safety? Just imagine what kind of safety would exist in organisations if they gave balance to open and closed systems? Just imagine how much happier safety people would be if they actually spent their time on safety?