What Are YOU Doing Today To Make Safety Happen?

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:

Time to Replace Common Sense with Gained Common Knowledge

Developing a Common Knowledge

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.

Buy a Safety Book!

  • The Emperor Has No Hard Hat: Achieving REAL Workplace Safety Results©
  • Creating & Maintaining a Practical Based Safety Culture©
  • More Creating & Maintaining a Practical Based Safety Culture – Turning Intention into Action©
  • How to Hold GREAT Safety Meetings – These meetings don’t suck anymore!©

Andrew Sharman – Evolving fear into function



Great Job Andrew!


Great Safety REQUIRES Great Communication – Know the Model & Use It!



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!

Developing a Common Knowledge

Common Knowledge2

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!

Common Knowledge – Strategies to Improve! Better Than Counting on Common Sense!

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.

Open Letter to those Not Yet Fatally Injured Workers


It’s again that time of year when most Workers’ Compensation Boards release their annual injury and fatality statistical reports for the previous year. This year is no different and again we’re seeing yet another batch of annual reports telling us that nothing significantly different has happened to our injury and illness numbers. The worst part of reading these reports is to knowing that while we read them we’re again replicating the carnage. Again this year many of our fellow workers will die because of their work. Rather than just sigh and ask rhetorically “oh well…what can I do about it?” I’d like to try something different.

I’m personally doing a great deal to change this annual fatality number. Over the past year I’ve spoken to many groups both large and small trying to develop as much dissatisfaction with the current state of safety management as I can. The numbers of folks that are joining my uneasiness with the lack of results for our efforts is growing. It’s going to take a great number of us all getting dissatisfied with these results to move us collectively into a different action.

On behalf of those of us who really care that this number of fatally injured workers hasn’t changed a great deal over the last two decades, I’m writing an open letter to those who are going to die this year. Although at first, I must admit, I found the idea a bit morbid, I think perhaps it may just shake someone off of their “I can’t do anything” spot. If we all were to increase our diligence to help our fellow workers become safer and healthier, then perhaps we’ll collectively make a difference. Feel free to share this letter with the people you work with. Perhaps it will make them think about what they can do to change this terrible outcome.

I thought I’d start by offering an apology to the not yet fatally injured workers who are going to die this year unless we do something differently. This is only one of the things I’m going to do differently over this next year…how about YOU?

Dear “Not Yet Fatally Injured Worker”

I’d like to sincerely say to you that I’m very sorry that you are going to die this year. Although we don’t know exactly which of you reading this will die, we do know that some of you will die in a work related traffic accident. We know that some will die of an industrial disease and that some of you will be fatally injured in a dramatic workplace incident like a fall or explosion. Here’s what your co-workers would say to you after you’re gone, so I thought you should hear it now. Hopefully reading this letter may get you and the people you work with to prevent your future fatal injury.

I want to tell you that we’re sorry that:

• we didn’t see that the deadly energy you were exposed to wasn’t properly controlled

• we didn’t take the time to make sure that you understood the safe behaviours you needed to follow so you would go home every night to your family

• we didn’t get the right tools to do your job safely

• we assumed because you were a seasoned veteran at your job we didn’t have to remind you to take those important precautions of wearing your personal protective equipment

• we rushed through the last safety meeting so we could get back to work sooner

• we forgot to look where you were before we backed up the vehicle

• we didn’t have a more experienced worker with you to guide you through the safe procedures

• we didn’t put up the guardrails

• we didn’t think that you would fall asleep behind the wheel because we scheduled long work shifts and worked you overtime to the point of your exhaustion

• we talked to you on your cell phone when we knew you were driving

• we didn’t provide a lockout process for you to follow

• we didn’t check to see that you knew how to do what you were doing your job safely

• we showed you a shortcut to follow that killed you

• we followed a different level of safety during the week than on the weekend when no one else is around

• we didn’t recognize sooner in your career that the chemicals and substances that we had you working with were hazardous to your long term health

• we didn’t learn from the last time this happened to someone

• we didn’t make sure that someone was held accountable to fix the thing that fatally injured you

• we made fun of you because you usually took the time to be extra careful

• we let you work without the fall arrest equipment

• we let you enter that confined space without following the procedures

• we didn’t ensure that the safety rules we have here actually are the way it is around here

• we didn’t check to make sure the equipment you were working with was properly maintained

• we gave you work that exposed you to uncontrolled hazards

• we didn’t think about your safety when we asked you to rush that last job

• we sent you down into that trench without shoring

• we ignored the fact that you usually don’t wear your seatbelt

• we didn’t remember that the overhead power line we touched with the crane was there

• I had to write this letter

Most importantly we’re sorry that your mother & father lost their child. We’re so very sorry that your brothers & sisters have lost their sibling; that your sons and daughters will grow up without you and that your spouse will never hold you again…

For these things we’re truly sorry and wish we had done something differently.

Alan D. Quilley CRSP

Really understanding why humans do what we do is powerful. Use the knowledge in positive ways and you’ll enjoy the positive outcomes!


6 Tips to Achieve the Best Results for Your Safety Efforts


In any business venture, we get results through careful planning of activities and through measuring not only the results but the activities that the people undertake to get those results. The creation of safety excellence is accomplished in exactly the same way.
I’m currently preparing a report for a client and I’m listing the things I’ve observed at their various workplaces when I visited over a two-week period. My personal observations and the discussions I had with over 1,100 employees and contractors will be categorized into the areas of discussion listed below. What I’m recommending to my client isn’t really different than what I would recommend to any company that wants to excel at achieving safety results for their considerable efforts.

Here are some of the high-level recommendations for the client and I would ask that you consider these for your company.

(1) Make safety activities personal for everyone. To measure is to motivate. Everyone in the company needs to help create safety. Everyone — from the CEO to the lowest paid employee — needs to have personal activities to assist in the creation of safety and a culture of safety that not only holds people responsible for the creation of safety but holds them accountable by measurement. Normally, this is done through objective setting and measurements during performance reviews. Make safety activities measurable and then hold everyone responsible for doing those activities through performance reviews.

(2) Shift focus from ‘prevention’ to ‘creating safety’. Do the things that have been proven to create safe environments and behaviours. Work on those activities that have high payback. Shifting from the negative measurements of loss and injury will empower the workers to create safety rather than avoid injury. It’s an important distinction that companies achieving safety excellence understand.

(3) Identify and make critical behaviours habitual. Select behaviours that you want to become a habit and work on strategies and tactics with your employees to get those behaviours to happen naturally — not unlike wearing a seatbelt, which has become a habit for most of us. A common example of making something habitual is taking medication or vitamins on a regular basis. Following the ABC — activator, behaviour, consequence — model of human behaviour, the first thing one needs to do is to activate the new behaviour of taking the pill. Leaving the pills in a place where you will notice them will increase the chances that you will remember to take them. Experiencing the consequences of being healthier and having the internal feeling of doing something positive for your health will be a natural consequence of the regimen. It is extremely important to choose these behaviours with your employees. Simply giving them a list of behaviours without allowing them to be part of the decision process leads to less than stellar performance.

(4) Increase the use of tools/equipment inspection checklists. For us to be safe at work, it’s essential that we use the right tools and that those tools are in good working order. The right equipment to do our work is essential. Serious injuries and fatalities happen because of people using the wrong equipment for a critical task or when the equipment used is not up to standard. Each time we do an inspection, we should ensure that everything we need to do our work is in place.

(5) Increase the observations of safe/unsafe behaviours. The real benefits of behaviour observations are the discussions they create — not the “observation cards.” Far too many companies gradually shift their goal to the number of observation cards. Use praise when you can and coaching discussions when needed.

(6) Improve the number and quality of safety discussions. Have great safety discussions and meetings. We can do this by first defining what a great meeting would look like, and then go about creating meetings that happen the way we designed them. Participants in the meeting need to have the power to give input into the meeting process and content. Without their input, these meetings have little chance of achieving the expectations of the participants. Make the participants responsible for the design and quality of the safety meetings that are held.

Creating safety is much different than preventing injuries and loss. When companies change their focus to better align their safety activities to their business processes, their safety outcomes improve.

There’s an old saying that’s been attributed to a number of famous people, and it goes like this: “Do what I do and you’ll get what I get.” I usually like to give credit for the statement to Edwards Deming, who not only taught us how to improve production, but that if we use the same approach and processes, we’ll get much improved safety results.