One of the best questions any Leader can ask of the people doing the work of their companies is “What are you doing today to create safety?” This is an important question to be answered because if it can’t be answered then safety isn’t being created. Safety creation activities are the key to achieving safety excellence. Safety is like any human endeavor, we have to make it happen (or we’re just counting on luck). Here are examples of the two possible scenarios: Wishing & Hoping Safety
The first of the two scenarios is what I call “Wishing and Hoping Safety.” Folks who manage this way subscribe to the idea that since nothing bad has happened, we must be doing things well. These companies measure their safety success by counting injuries (or lack thereof). When there are no injuries, they assume proudly that they created that situation where no injuries occurred. Trouble is little or no effort has gone into creating the safe situation so it could be, at best, a guess that safety happened.
It’s also highly likely that unsafe things happened today but they were fortunate enough not to pay the price with a resulting injury. An additional dynamic with this type of Wishing & Hoping Safety is there is a high likelihood that when an injury does happen there is blame flailed around in all directions (except back at the blamer). Insults pointed at the injured human like (Stupid, No-Common Sense, Idiot) are all too likely. For more on the silliness bordering on insane use of “Common Sense” and the wise use of Common Knowledge” see:
Integrated Safety Management System
The second of the two scenarios, which is much wiser and more stable is taking an Integrated Safety Management System approach. This requires intent, actions and evidence to build safe places to work Best of all it measures the existence of those actions to develop confidence that there is a causal relationship between the actions and the outcomes. Sounds to me like we’re actually starting to manage!
Over time, a state of safety excellence is created and exists consistently and predictably. The company works long periods of time with few downgrading incidents. When they do happen, a calm and measured response is likely. There is empathy for the people injured and a true commitment to uncover what may be something missed in creating safety excellence. The pride comes not from pretending perfection but from an overwhelming commitment to learning from mistakes and continual improvement. Reports of actions taken is the highlight of the statistical analysis since there are very few injuries to count. When a day is finished there are statistical measures on what was done to create safety and therefore likely an incident free day.
So there you have it, TWO states for your company to be in… Wishing & Hoping or creating safety excellence through thoughtful and diligent use of an Integrated Safety Management System. One you need to change as soon as possible the other one you should be extremely proud of!
So tomorrow morning, ask 10 people who work at your company the question “What Are YOU Doing Today To Make Safety Happen? If you like the answers you hear, congratulations. If you hear a lot of pausing and “aww, well, you see…ummm, aww” you know what you need to do. Start asking for the creation of safety activities to be reported.
For more information on creating safety excellence visit Safety Results Ltd.
One of the critical keys to communication is engagement. Trouble is much, of safety communication doesn’t fit the classic communication model and is done TO people not WITH them. This all too common flaw is why I wrote my book “How to Hold GREAT Safety Meetings – These meetings don’t suck anymore!” Far too many meetings are not meetings at all but one way delivery sessions in very unengaging ways.
In the classic communication model (see the model above), engagement through feedback is essential. People engage if engaged…the logic is overwhelming!
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!
There’s NO WAY to improve “Common Sense” (such a silly and uninformed concept) but there are REAL strategies one can implement to improve “Common Knowledge!”
Share a story! Do a hazard assessment with someone. Tell a story about when you’ve failed to see a hazard and you paid the price or ALMOST paid the price. Ask questions of others! “How do you do….(fill in the blanks).”
These things are activities we can all do to increase our common knowledge.