Consider measuring and nesting expectations and behaviours that CREATE Safety. Include your Management Team! Thoughts? Please share with your team and start the larger discussion of measuring safety and not the lack of it!
Interesting article from Dr. Rob Long… well played Rob!
Saying What Is REALLY Important Matters
What Does Counting Injuries as a Measure of Our Safety Process do to Our Risk Communication?
There’s a long tradition in thinking (by some) that measuring safety is best done by measuring the lack of injury. If you’ve read ANY of my books, articles, newsletters, tweets, Linkedin posts and/or my blog you’ll know that I believe this is illogical and a very poor measure of safety. Measuring injuries as proof of safety is illogical because lack of injury can happen by just being lucky. Very unsafe activities can result in no injuries at all.
What I haven’t talked about much is what this huge error in risk communication does to our workers. Let’s explore…
What are we really trying to say?
If we count and celebrate lack of injury, do our workers start to think that as long as they are not injured it must be what they want?
Is the message to them “Take risks to get production, just don’t get caught by hurting yourself?” How about “It must be safe, last time I did it I didn’t get hurt!”
I’m confident that we do a great deal of damage to our workers risk perception by linking the lack of injury to their safety. Every one of us reading this can think of a time (in most cases, many times) when we’ve done something everyone on the planet would consider unsafe yet we didn’t get hurt.
So celebrating lack of injury statistics when your whole company knows that it was achieved (at least in part) by some level of luck is extremely damaging. It actually encourages behaviours that may not be in the best interest of your workers. In a similar fashion, hiring contractors with low injury rates may very well be celebrating and rewarding the best manipulators of safety statistics.
Let’s stop linking this poor measure of safety to our success and/or the rewarding of contracts. We will be successful when we are doing our tasks (work or play) in a reasonably risk managed way. Risk can never be zero but it can be logical based on what is available to us to reasonably control the harmful energies that may strike us. Risk management isn’t magic… it’s logical and hopefully a thoughtful use of our knowledge. Above all there needs to be a reasonable relationship between the risk and the amount of control achieved.
Measuring positive attributes of safe production is the real measure of working safely.
Next time we’ll discuss what we can count and measure that REALLY demonstrates what is important to us by counting the “creating of safety through our activities.” In Part 2 we’ll reveal that counting what we do is much better than counting what doesn’t happen to us! Stay tuned!
I believe to participate in discussions (on-line or in person) with other professionals is essential to one’s growth. Often when involved in these discussions I run across some who just don’t present a rational position. There are many innocent reasons for this irrational very human flaw. Try not to be victim to these cognitive biases. As they say ‘the first step is to realise that you may be a victim of your own biases.” Self-reflection is difficult. Good luck with the growth! Here’s a thought-provoking article I stumbled across on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Enjoy.
As my readers will know, I’m not a fan of the illogical term “Common Sense.” The term is most often used in an insulting statement. Usually delivered by an arrogant person who believes they “Have It” and the targeted insulted party “Doesn’t Have It. There is absolutely NO evidence such a magical sense exists.
What we do know exists and can be cultivated is a “Common Knowledge.” In the world of managing organizations Common Knowledge is essential to our success. Communication of ideas and the development of knowledge and skills is a purposeful act that can be managed and GETS RESULTS.
So how do we actively work on a Common Knowledge? Here are some approaches that work:
Get the Best of the Best to Train Others
This is the age old Trade/Craftsman approach. Those who can do, teach others. Anyone who has been involved in this type of training will know just how productive it can be. A word of caution, make sure you pick the right trainer! Trainees can be damaged forever by being taught by the wrong “expert.”
Make it OK to be a Fallible Human
When developing new people to have the knowledge and skills necessary to be GREAT at their jobs the last thing we need is arrogant perfectionists as leaders/trainers. People need time to gain knowledge and develop skills. Impatience from mentors is NOT helpful. It takes time to learn new things. Pick trainers/coaches to help the new people learn and who can remember where and how long it took them to get GOOD at their jobs. They will be the best trainers/coaches/mentors. Select wisely.
So the next time you’re motivated to use the term “Common Sense” PLEASE DON’T…It makes you look uninformed and frankly a bit “arrogantly superior.” Let’s face it, we’re all in this together and being patient and kind with each other will win the day!