“This is the single most important article for everyone involved and/or committed to achieving Safety Excellence to read! Outstanding work! Every CEO, Senior Management Team, Safety Professional, HR Professional, Safety Committee Member, Father, Mother, Brother, Sister and employees MUST Read this article and help out companies and organizations do a much better job of managing safety! Congratulations Dave & Judith!” – Alan D. Quilley CRSP
Hypercompliance – Too Much of a Good Thing – Dave Rebbitt and Judith Erickson
He’s not only 10 years older…he’s ten years wiser!
It’s been 10 years since my first book “The Emperor Has No Hard Hat – Achieving REAL Workplace Safety Results” was published. It’s been quite a ride since the Globe and Mail was kind enough to recognize “The Emperor” by including my book on their Best Business Books of 2006 – Honourable Mention. I believe that’s the ONLY time the Globe & Mail has EVER included a Safety Management focused book on their Best Books list.
Over the past 10 years I have focused my work, consultancy and articles on my safety system model that was describe in “The Emperor.” My version of an “Integrated Safety Management System (ISMS)” has made some real changes to many companies and corporations and more importantly positively impacted how some people think and manage safety. Shifting the focus from preventing accidents to creating safety through measured activities gets improved results. Not only does this much more positive approach work; it feels better while we’re doing it.
ISMS is a live system, It’s not an audit, it’s not a prescriptive standard, it is a way of approaching your efforts to truly manage the critical Whats and Hows of your business to achieve REAL results. It’s really about how you run your business.
So it’s time to re-invigorate the things “The Emperor” learned about those Hows and Whats of managing safety. How leaders and managers can take their “commitment” and turn it into action that gets REAL safety results.
I hope you enjoy the adventures of The Emperor and consider the path he took to achieving real results. I can assure you that pathway is still as valid today now as it was then. Probably more so since the experience of many more corporations has demonstrated that Creating Safety is much more efficient and effective than preventing accidents.
For further info and some samples of The Emperor Has No Hard Hat – Achieving REAL Workplace Safety Results” content, click on the following excerpt titles:
Overview of ISM
ROI & Selling Safety
What others have said about The Emperor!
Review from Carsten Busch
My special thanks to Carsten Busch who took the time out of his busy schedule to read and review my books. I’ve come to know Carsten through our LinkedIn discussions and found him to be a wonderfully thought provoking Safety Professional. I highly recommend that you visit his website www.mindtherisk.com and, if you get a chance, join a discussion he’s involved in on LinkedIn. You’ll be better off because of it!
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!
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.
- 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!©
1) Make safety look more like your business and less like a “program.”
Safely is HOW we do our work. It’s NOT a program, it’s not a special set of activities any more than efficiency is a program. Challenge the people that work in your organization to create safe, efficient and effective production of your goods and services. Then resource their efforts.
2) You’re paid to get results, not prevent things.
STOP preventing accidents and start creating safety (See Resolution #1)! You’re in the business of adding value to your stakeholders and shareholders. You’re not in the C Suite to Prevent Loss!
3) Zero isn’t a valid Safety Goal – It’s not about safety at all!
Not sure how or when it happened but this ZERO chant has to stop. A company can have ZERO injuries and do absolutely nothing. There’s a problem with celebrating a goal that can happen just by chance! Set SAFETY goals (doing things that create safety) and lose the non-injury goals. The people who work for your company can be working in very unsafe ways. If they don’t get caught by an injury they may believe that you still want them to work that way.
Don’t ask about injuries that didn’t happen, ask questions about what your corporation is doing to create Safety. Measure those things and you’ll get better at safety.
4) The few can’t control the many.
The idea that supervisors are in control of safety and can do all of the safety work is insane. Engage your workers in creating safe work. Give them the time and resources to become your safety leaders!
5) What you show interest in is what is important.
Show your sincere interest in how your company is working safely. Get out of your office and ask a lot of questions about safety. Every time you ask about efficiency and effectiveness, add the work “SAFELY.” For example: “How long is it going to take to SAFELY complete that portion of the project?” Another example is “How much will it cost for us to SAFELY get that part of the project done?” Adding the word SAFELY to your assignments is powerful. Then as a follow-up, when they tell you it’s done…ask them how they ensured it was done safely?
6) Think about START, STOP, CONTINUE.
Want a goal better than Zero Injuries? Ask your people to create activities around STOP, START, CONTINUE. Ask them what they are going to STOP doing to make their work safer. What can they START doing that they are not now doing that could make their work safer? Finally have them identify what they are doing now that is making their work safe and how are they ensuring that they are doing work that way every time they do it.
7) Lead don’t follow.
Leaders inspire. If you want your corporation to be safety excellent you need to create that challenge, resource the efforts and measure A LOT. Giving everyone (including yourselves) safety activities to do and make those responsibilities nested in job descriptions and performance evaluations will do much more than ZERO injuries chants (See Resolution #3).
8) Create Safety Excellence WITH your employees and contractors.
As a management team you need to get out of your offices and sit with your people and ask them what YOU can do to help them create safety in their work. Train them (and attend the training yourselves) how to create safety. Show them your interest by your actions… words are cheap…actions show REAL commitment!
9) STOP just being “Committed to Safety” and actually DO SOMETHING.
See Resolution #8. Make a commitment as a management team to do a list of activities in the coming year that demonstrates that your team has “skin in the game” of creating safety excellence. Then tell your Board of Directors that you have made completion of those activities part of your “at risk pay” performance evaluation. If you don’t do the work you don’t get the bonus!
10) Trust your Supervisors & Employees to be Safety Leaders.
This is the most important of all. Your people are more than capable to create safety excellence in their work. You trust that they will give your production of goods and service… make it a condition of your measurement of GREAT outcomes that they demonstrate that they are doing that work safely. Lack of injury does NOT do that. Actually working safely is the only measure of safety excellence.
I hope this has helped you focus on what you and your senior management team can do to create safety excellence in your corporation. Don’t hesitate, do it now! Your corporation will be much safer than it is now if you do!
For more information on Safety Leadership read “The Emperor Has no Hard Hat: Achieving REAL Workplace Safety Results”. WINNER, Honorable Mention, Globe and Mail’s Best Business Books of 2006.
Interesting article from Dr. Rob Long… well played Rob!
There seems to be a theme lately in the Safety World – Humans intellectually looking for impossibly high reliability where there is none. Seeking perfection where none exists. Seeking Anti-fragile (I really don’t like that artificially created non-word) in a fragile reality. Looking for predictable outcomes in a random world.
We can only know what we know. Until of course we create perfect “future vision” and/or ”time travel” the unexpected is to be expected. We can only do what we can with what we have. Wishing and hoping for insight we can’t possibly have (expecting perfect Risk Assessment and Management for example). It is certainly interesting and increasingly frustrating to watch the safety community spin.
I prefer to focus on excellence with expected and predictable occasional failures. Reality is real! :O)
It’s not like listening to athletes who have just won something and explain that they gave 110%. Of course it’s not at all like believing in Santa!
Merry Christmas To ALL
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