Thinking About Appearance-Based Safety©

Today on a conference call with some good friends and colleges the discussion evolved to where we were talking about corporations becoming dis-satisfied with their current state of their “safety culture”. The ones that are good, just not GREAT, at safety management. I said that I saw these companies as being where it looked like they were safe (intention binders in place, passing audits, managing low injuries numbers through claims management) but it just appeared that way. I thought these companies were achieving “Appearance-Based Safety”.
I liked it so much I copyrighted the term. There’s probably a book in there somewhere…Working title…”Beyond Appearance-Based Safety©”

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One comment on “Thinking About Appearance-Based Safety©

  1. Joseph Slavin, CRSP says:

    Al, I think this is a critical issue for many safety programs that I experience and hear about. Somehow we (safety folks, government officials and corporate leaders) have created the illusion that safety performance is all about passing the audit. Those in the know realize that the audit questions have not changed in umpteen years and many organizations have built a program to mirror the audit rather than to focus on safety in the workplace. Dan Petersen taught us better, but it seems we are not interested in listening.

    The challenge, at least as I see it, is that having this good looking binder (which often contains a house of cards) has become critical to getting on the bid-list, so few are interested in talking about what real safety performance looks like. The safety practitioners that I meet all tell me they are so busy keeping up appearances (and putting out fires) they have little time for anything proactive. To complicate the matter, the infrastructure that supports the current elemental-safety paradigm is MASSIVE. COR certification alone consumes huge time, energy and funding resources both government and private sector.

    Change will not come easy. In the meantime, we continue to sell ourselves short in terms of the lives that could be saved, pain and suffering that could be avoided and the most effective and efficient use of our safety dollars towards REAL safety performance.

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