The 10 Definitive Rules For Safety Culture Improvement

Compliance Rules Laws Regulations Stack of Books ManualsThe 10 Definitive Rules For Safety Culture Improvement:

I really did want to stop at 10 but 11 is such an underrated number and rule No11 provides a great summary and round up of the top 10. After 30 years in risk and safety and 6 years posting 3000 articles and reading all the awesome comments on them, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no definitive rules. Yes, even despite what it says on the bottle of very expensive snake oil you recently purchased from a very slick Salesperson. Every workplace is different and changes constantly, every individual is unique in the way they make decisions.

I bet that nobody can give me an example of an organisation that has a zero harm / zero tolerance approach to risk and safety along with a massive list of rules AND that has a more mature, positive and active culture than a tub of yogurt …………

At this point I want to quote some people who can articulate this stuff heaps betterer and totally more awesomely than I can:

 Dr Rob Long wrote in Golden Safety Rules:

Rules are parts of systems and systems serve humans not humans serve systems. Unfortunately, safety engineers seem to think that humans serve systems.

People don’t die because they break Cardinal rules, you can die just as easily by keeping all the rules. This is the nature of turbulence when rules don’t fit context, change and adaptability. Decision making and human judgement is not simple nor black and white and because risk is all about uncertainty there is no formula for every context as change and randomness alter the landscape of choice and decision. So what is a rule one minute can just as easy be a burden in the next. This is the nature of human decision making and the social shaping of culture and environment. A culture built on absolutes has to be ruled absolutely, what a fearful and terrifying culture.

Rob Sams recently wrote about a rule obsessed company in  A Culture of Care (and sackings…)

I looked at their website, and they talk about a ‘culture of care’, and say that “only a few organizations translate safety into a value, namely that the goal of “zero” (injuries, accidents, tolerance, etc.) is never compromised.So, if I read this right, the goal is zero injuries, accidents and tolerance (and whatever etc. means in this context?), but then go on to say “it is an organization that allows, elicits and rewards innovation, for which it must learn from failures to improve in the future.” So a ‘culture of care’ is one where there is zero tolerance, yet at the same time innovation is rewarded and you learn from mistakes to improve. Is it any wonder people working in organisations like this get confused?

And another by Dr Long in: And the Formula Is, There Is No Formula

The mechanical, systematic and rationalist mindset seeks to find formulas, patterns and predictability using a ‘scientific method’. For the mechanical mindset, decisions are made by exploring options, weighing up the value of each option and deciding on the best option from a basic of values, strengths and weaknesses. However, this not how people really make decisions. Most human decision making is made without ‘thinking’: by intuition, emotion and the unconscious. The idea that a human can be programmable, predictable and controlled is a delusion. Yet, when it comes to risk and safety it seems the industry has a preoccupation with engineering and predictability and this mindset gets flabbergasted when humans don’t behave as per the controls. The only response can be that the other person was stupid, and idiot or both. READ MORE >>>>>>

From Phil LaDuke in: There is no such Thing as a Safety Culture

“There is a nearly ubiquitous conversation ragging in the safety forums: how can one create a “safety culture” within my organization. This debate is troubling from a couple of perspectives.  First, there really isn’t any such thing as a “safety culture” the fact that people blather on about this topic shows a very deep ignorance of organizational culture.  Every organization of more than five people has a culture. In simplest terms, a culture is the codified collection of the norms, shared values, and rules of an organization. Cultures evolve to protect the organization’s interests and to determine what is acceptable behavior. In so doing, corporate culture makes it possible to govern the organization.

Finally, have a read of this one: A Formula for Safety Culture Failure and Success and tell me if you can improve upon my list of safety culture rules.

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below