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!
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.
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What Does Counting Injuries as a Measure of Our Safety Process do to Our Risk Communication?
In Part 1, I outlined why I think counting injuries as some measure of safety is not only illogical, it does a great deal of damage. Leading the people you work with to think that as long as they don’t get hurt it must be OK. Imagine the trades person who just finished a job and took terrible risks (perhaps not locking out) and then his/her boss tells then they have done a GREAT JOB. At the end of the month we add insult to injury by celebrating an “injury free” month and hand out safety trinkets and repeatedly tell everyone (including your clients) “we had another SAFE month…keep up the good work!”
So let’s stop this madness and actually measure SAFETY. I propose that safety is doing what we need to do without taking unnecessary risks. We look at a job that is to be done and we evaluate the risks we face. We come up with a way to do the job that is the most safely productive way to do it without taking unreasonable and unnecessary risks. In the example above, working with electricity without locking out is terribly risky. It’s unnecessary to work without the protection of locking out the energy (at least in most cases except for highly trained and protected trades people who work with live electrical lines). So the challenge becomes deciding what needs to be done to manage the identified risk and taking those steps each and every time we’re going to do that job. If there are roadblocks to the chosen safe behaviours then we need to jointly devise ways to ensure the safe way becomes the natural way to do the job. Now we have some real things to measure that are creating safe production. Counting, measuring the creation of safety through our defined activities give us some real evidence-based data to work with. Now when we congratulate the people we work with on a good job…we can actually mean it!
So using the example above we can certainly measure if lock out processes are in place, we can also measure if the hardware is available. Then we can start to measure the compliance level and effectiveness of the process. Now when we see positive actions and evidence we truly have something to celebrate. If we find short comings we have something positive to work on and celebrate when we’ve accomplished our goals of creating safety. We’ll know without a doubt that we created the situation of ensuring we’ve locked out. Best of all we did it with our employees!
So there you have it Just some practical thoughts on what we can do to create and measure safety…give it a try. It’s a lot better than counting what didn’t happen and assuming we created the non-event. See how silly that sounds?
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!