Top 10 Things About Safety and Risk That Only a Handful of People Know
Republished by request
Here are 10 and a bit things about safety that I plucked from some recent blog posts, that singularly or collectively only a handful of people may know. Or, if they knew them, perhaps did not know them well? Of course the Barry Spuds of the world already know yet deny all this stuff! As always, in the words of the late George Robotham, “It would be a boring world if everybody agreed with me” so I hope this sparks as much debate as our “Safety 10 Commandments” and “What is Safety” articles:
- Safety is a Wicked Problem – The binary worldview denies complexity and moreso the reality of ‘wicked problems’. This enables safety crusaders to not identify with others but rather marginalize others because the rules are simple and the presumption is that unsafe people, risk takers are both stupid and ignorant moreso, they lack ‘common sense’. The trap of binary thinking in risk and safety is that it promotes rapid judgment, comfortable decision making and dehumanizing others. See How Do You Know If You Are Leading in Risk and Safety?
- Every Seemingly Simple Solution has a Trade-Off or By-Product – People’s ability to adapt and compensate to change and achieve their normal level of risk comfort is amazing (Risk Homeostasis) – many don’t realize that simply choosing a quick control from the hierarchy can actually increase risk, elimination is not always the best option – see Could understanding Grey, be the ‘silver bullet’? and Stand Behind The Yellow Line – Do Engineering Controls Affect Risk? and Why Don’t Safety Controls Always Work?
- Safety is not a Value but it is something we value – There is a big difference between what we value (outcome and object) and what is a value (principle/ethic) when we consider strategy and thinking in risk and safety – see We can Value Safety but Safety is not a Value
- The absence of something (no injuries) doesn’t indicate the presence of something else (safety). see the dozens of articles here: ZERO HARM
- Safety is about people – not objects – See Risk is about people, not just objects and Making objects safe or people safe
- The more you poke safety with a stick, the more it starts to smell (one of my favourites) – bean counters and safety crusaders get very despondent when a big focus or spend on safety only leads to incident statistics getting worse – there are many good reasons for this. See Semiotics and Safety
- 100% compliance will only solve 20% of your safety problems – See Non-Compliance and the Ten Fundamentals of Motivation
- Safety requires good leaders and good followers – not crusaders and sheep – see Are you a safety leader or safety crusader and How Do You Know If You Are Leading in Risk and Safety?
- Zero Harm approaches do not work and actually cause more harm than good – see the dozens of articles here: ZERO HARM
- Safety culture is extremely complex and not well understood – most incidents are culturally determined not behaviourally determined. We must understand how language shapes culture and behaviour and work hard to eliminate wrongful discourse in the workplace culture and influence the organisation to use rightful priming in talking about risk and safety. see Safety and Risk Culture Cloud
- Most of what is said in OHS is just ‘noise’. You need to stop listening – It is a distraction and delusional and creates the idea that you are actually an expert in risk and safety. see The Sound of Safety
- Telling is not learning and is much more risky than asking – see The Art of Humble Enquiry and Scenario Learning in Risk and Safety
- Safety is NOT the No1 Priority! Never has been, never will be and never should be. See Safety is not the number one priority and Safety Should NOT be About Safety
- FEAR – The F word seems to be responsible for so much of our conscious or unconscious behaviour regardless of how smart or tough or adventurous we think we are. see ‘Can’t Means Won’t Try’ – The Challenge of Being Challenged
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