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Why are people so foolish and naïve to think big business is really concerned with people, safety and the environment...THEY ARE NOT!
I myself have seen enough in my time in safety to get out of the ass covering and fear industry, as not one company I have worked for was proactive in risk mitigation and all covered up and or downplayed incident causalities.
(story on Safety HERE)
What is the critical thinking pragmatist point of view on safety? Safety has become a sector full of, unethical ass covering methods, self proclaimed experts who have not worked in the sector, but who have all the answers, legal fear mongering, trivial jargon and over complicated safety systems and topics that have been introduced, invented, reinvented, plagiarised, altered, made up, and lied about by people looking to cash in or to make their role seem significant and indispensable. Safety is a multibillion dollar industry and many are out to protect their incomes.
My core philosophy is doing what we have in place now (simple first HERE) and get this right and in practice, before going hunting for the new complex thing that promises to fix safety. As I have said many times; I have not seen or been in an organisation that has done risk management properly (the basics). Maybe if we focused on this simple approach and did the what is advertised via laws and best practices etc to its practicable best, many incidents would not occur. We should only move up into more complex topics once we know about the basic, but one would have to ask, would there be a need to make something more complex if the simple was being practiced?.
I look at all these new safety ideas/systems coming out by safety experts and how they claim they will 'save safety' with such overkill topics as psychology and BBS and not to mention Safety II and Safety Differently, it is such a con on the context collective mindsets won't change, humans are humans. If you train a person the best way, give them the best tools and equipment, and do not pressure them, the rest will fall into place (including safety) if they are intrinsically motivated, how hard is that!
We are wasting so much money, time and effort on safety programs, we employ safety people who make no real improvement in safety (nothing others like foreman and managers could not do as mindful people), and like the constant changes in government who still have not fixed education, health, and jobs, there is no long term plan in our mist. If safety was not a requirement (law & reputation) there would be very few organisations that would even contemplate having a specific safety department or safety workers. They would see (as I do) that safety is as easy as having managers, foreman and other leaders promoting safety in an everyday manner, that giving training and providing good tools and equipment is the most fundamental aspect of providing safety (have these things and safety will result). Honestly, do we really need a safety person or manager advising people to be safe...think about it (to many topics make up safety...safety is many things). Research into why most incidents happen and you will see there is not much that could be done to stop having these incidents in our current pressured and stresses environment that is full of poor plant and equipment and greedy organisations. Safety today is all about protecting organisations (and now their officers) from lawsuits and fines. Its about keeping a score so they can be seen as the 'safe' company so they can win the next contract.
It is a sad state of affairs when a law (harmonisation 2012) like here in Australia, has to be introduced, to make officers interested in safety as if they had no responsibility in the first place!. If these officers where proactive and responsible in safety to start with, such a law would not have been needed now would it...but this prove my point about collective safety not improving, as I cannot see how introducing a law will control safety in the context of mindfullness!
Then we get safety websites that constantly compare risk taking in extreme sport and life (see one of my many replies to this site HERE) with risk taking in the workplace (Embracing risk HERE). I do not think these people understand risk management in the workplace context; and are heavily influenced by childhood learning and meaning of life. Workplace risk management is where the risk assessments (simplistic to complex) give what risk is to be taken, risk is mitigated and controlled...not taken.
In sport and in life we do need to take risks to feel alive, but this risk is on the person, not an organisation. In an organisation you should respect that risk taking is not to be taken lightly. Allowing for people to make their own choice on risk is naive thinking as not all people have a good risk appitite.
These sites also promote psychology as the next big thing, yet much of what they say is impractical, irresponsible and dangerous (such as telling us to be loose on law and rules and unlearn orthodox safety). They also just basically cover the topic of consultation, which is reframed in many different ways to make it sound new and complex. I have also not seen any actions of what we can do but lots of what has happened (psychology is retrospective). I see a lot of comments about finding a middle ground, but no examples. They say we need less rules but don't give what one should go, they say we need to reduce paperwork but don't say which paperwork. The reason is that they cannot give examples. So I have to ask...WHAT ARE THEY SELLING? how to be a moral human? what is moral?
I also see that academics HERE rule the world of safety. It is almost like they are the only ones who have a thinking brain (so what they went to uni and memorised data, this is nothing to do with thinking), the rest of us are just there to follow their every word as gospel. The academics are themselves so cynical about many things in safety (even though they despise the cynical term and blame this as a major contributor to a toxic environment) yet they fail to acknowledge that it is their academic friends who create how safety is to work.
he safety person/department is left to carry the weight of this collective safety failure and is often called many negative terms, such as spudheads or fun police by experts who seem to want to segregate safety even further. If safety people are being called spud heads (people who are shaped to suit others), then I would have to ask who creates them? if safety people are spud heads for taking their role seriously, then so must be police, military personnel and anyone else who has to follow rules to do their job.
Being a safety person I believe has to return back to the role of advisor, auditor, collaborator and investigator, nothing more and nothing less. They have to stop being shaped into roles and responsibilities that suit others HERE out of convenience and cost cutting. Even the term environment should be taken out of the HSE tittle. Environmental care is a specialised area, and I doubt many in safety would know much about environmental studies. Its a specialist role such as psychology, learning etc. This is why I say safety is made up by many things. Safety is not something you can do!
Many specifically trained experts are trying to add to the role of a safety advisor as a way to market/sell some safety system/concept and business accepts this because it is cheaper to have a multi-skilled role to save money than having to employ the expertise of another for a specific sector. If you break down the role a safety person today, there is a low percentage of role congruence being applied to the practice of safety and risk management. It is mostly reviewing lots of meaningless paperwork, preparing reactive investigation reports, doing trivial audits that really result in no actions, training work topics that they themselves have little experience in, assessing, filling out return to work forms, attending training on how to "become", and lots of other mundane stuff that is secondary to proactive safety.
I am the point that I really think there is no need for safety people if we continue down this pathway of expecting the safety person to be all they are not. One company I worked for said the role of safety is now 80% training and assessment. In this case the role tittle should be renamed, but then this would not meet the complience of safety coverage!.
The safety person has become the scapegoat for the true leaders within the organisation. Ownership of safety is constantly expressed by some experts as the responsibility of safety people and departments. There are self claimed safety experts writing topics on some safety web sites that say safety people need to be "change/culture managers" HERE and should have expertise in all manner of topics such as psychology, teaching, and language. It is a dam shame these people add to the confusion and negative discourse in safety. If these people had actually been in front line safety, they would know the i$$ues. Being a consultant, or coming into safety via other accidental means, does not give this level of understanding.
From my leanings and understanding in safety; you can have the best SMS, expertise experts, award wining logos and posters, and all means of other purchased silver bullets, but none of these will make a dam bit of difference to the fact that; pressure has the greatest influence on negative outcomes. Almost all incidents I have investigated or have learned about occurred due to something that was forced by pressures/demands.
|I am not holding this gun to your head, but...if you don't ignore safety procedures, cut some corners, and hurry up|
Pressure to supply (make money) stops training from being done, Pressure to supply stops maintenance programs, Pressure to supply creates stress, Pressure to supply causes unhealthy competition, Pressure to supply neglects the human needs of safety and community, and Pressure to supply makes people do negative things and deviate from the acceptable and the rules.
So, the pressures I am discussing in my philosophy are those that cause deaths and serious injuries to people and which also degrade our fragile environment. In our culture, we are not allowing ourselves to be appropriately time managed. By this I mean we do not cost out tasks on a fair level of safe labour effort. We continually under the realm of profiteering/greed cut back on labour time to meet a deadlines and expectations. If we were doing safety properly there would be a 15% safety component added to all jobs (6hrs a week in a 40hr week given to safety). So sadly, these profiteering inspired leaders continue to ignore the real issues of safety (the ones that cause the most risk) and continue to hope luck will see them through.