What is a Safety Reset?

safety resetAfter four fatalities in a short period of time in the ACT in 2011 the regulator launched an inquiry into safety into the building and construction industry.  This resulted in the Getting Them Home Safely Report  in which I made a significant contribution (including diagnostics workshop at the safety summit) especially in the area of culture, risk and leadership. In many ways this bears strong similarities to the current Queensland ‘safety reset’.

Of course, after the release of the ACT report all recommendations regarding culture, risk and leadership were NOT implemented. Instead, selective items were undertaking including the addition of more audits, inspectors and bureaucracy in safety. This is what a ‘safety reset’ meant in the ACT. More of the same, with a dash of guilt, retraining in the same, language the same, process the same, discourse the same and regime of thinking the same (https://safetyrisk.net/when-things-go-wrong-lets-do-more-of-the-same/).

I read with interest an article put out by Mining Safetowork magazine recently (https://safetowork.com.au/bma-gets-on-front-foot-with-qld-safety-reset/) and the indicators are clear that a ‘safety reset’ doesn’t involve anything new. So let’s run a race and when we get to the end, let’s not find a new track or course to travel but rather let’s go back to the start and run the same race again. Brilliant!

Have a read of this article. No new language, same old injury data thinking, rehash standards, increase audits, life-saving controls, regurgitated complacency discussion (with no idea what that means), safety briefings, safety summit and stop work conversations. Now there is some vision for you. No discussion about culture, no venture into the known unknowns, rope in the same engineering mindset to the same repeated problem and attribute value to when the stats go down. Then wait a few years and when the data hits a spike, do it all again. Brilliant!

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

13 Replies to “What is a Safety Reset?”

        1. It is similar to a game of Monopoly and is exacerbated by the futile quest for corporate manslaughter. Do not pass go, go directly to jail, which merely creates a lawyer’s picnic and undermines common law.

          It generates more blame, fear and intimidation not leadership. Indeed the only safe ship in a storm is genuine leadership, which is well covered in Rob and Craig’s book entitled Following-Leading in Risk – A humanising dynamic and explores the zone of reciprocal relationship.

          It’s a terrible situation to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead and find no one there – FDR

  1. Would this perhaps be the result of the people making the decisions not knowing anything else, so they stick to what is familiar to them, even if it does not change anything? Perhaps akin to the people not wanting to believe the earth is round, despite evidence to the contrary. Also, what is the impact of Zero thinking on this? If your world view is risk aversion, you would not want to risk anything unknown, since that would then be too high a risk. Does the worldview of those in positions to make the decisions for change not perhaps prevent them from making any change? Does a worldview of Zero not prevent anyone from making any changes, since it would involve too much risk?

    1. Wynand, very much about being seen to be doing something, then when stats go down through manipulating data, claim effectiveness of the reset.

  2. The J. D Rockefeller ideology of creating an opportunity out of the carnage is also a significant contributory factor and quite evident via the tyranny of bureaucratic nostrums it generates.

    Why kill the goose that lays the golden egg? Since the World Trade Centre attacks the memorial site has received over 30 million visitors and its supplementary museum attracts over 9000 people each day with an admission fee of approximately AUS $ 30.

  3. I just got back from a “Safety Collaboration Stand Down/Conference” from the most well known software company in the world (unless you are using an Apple, you are no doubt using one of their products to read this post) and there was language and phrasing that hinted at placing high order goals as the real value in managing risk and creating a culture that values people first, but it always gets sucked back into the same old sh*t. One one hand, they say “No one wakes up in the morning and plans or wants to get hurt that day” then in the same breath hammers the phrase “employees who get hurt made unsafe choices”. Which is it??!! I know collectively, this contradiction registers in the unconscious, and it part of the reason everyone walks away from this with the sense that the same old orthodox safety crap will continue to be used. When you have been trained as I have in SPoR and recognize the semiotics of the room, the words that are said and NOT said, the ontology of orthodox safety screams out at you and it is amazing that on one else sees or hears it.

    1. Dyno, when one has been indoctrinated with safety ideology and discourse over years this becomes one’s frame of reality. Framing the world through safety is a psychosis and when in a psychosis one doesn’t know one is either neurotic or psychotic. The world of terror makes sense to a terrorist. The world of safety brutalism and Behaviourism makes sense to the safety fundamentalist. and if you speak the right language in the sector and tell people what they ‘know’ you can make a fortune ensuring that nothing changes.

    2. Do they REALLY value people first, though, when they say that. Unfortunately, we are more enlightened in knowing that when you value people first everything else in the organization improves. But, the ones making the decisions don’t fully embrace this belief. They still see safety as an added expense and they want to have clear measurable results; thus, focusing on inspections instead of culture.

  4. Just learned that one week after the ‘reset’ there were a range of very serious reportable incidents across mining in Queensland. Now that was successful. When you have no idea about safety, do a reset!

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