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Dinosaur or Safety Innovator

August 9, 2013

Safety Dinosaur,

By Wayne J Harris

In several of my previous articles I opened up the question of leadership and being creative.

If there is one tip I would like to stress to everyone, it would be not to jump on the band wagon of using the same old schemes that have kept popping up over the years. Yes I’m talking about things such as; Zero Harm, Zero Preventable Injuries and that old chestnut from the 1970’s “Zero Damage Zero Injury”. All these buzzwords have been around for over 30 years, and yet people still think they will be the answer to all their problems.

I wonder what a board of directors would think if the Chief Financial Officer (CF0) stood up at a board meeting and said, ‘I have a fantastic new idea on how to improve our turnover’. Then with great enthusiasm, announced the scheme is called “Let’s make Money” or “Only profit not Loss”.

To make sure everyone knows about the scheme, the CFO launches a poster campaign, awards scheme and staff briefing sessions etc. Now, do you think that everyone in the company will all of a sudden start to change how they work?

As soon as people start to separate any part of business management into schemes you are on a very bumpy and slow road to minimal compliance. One of the comments I always make is “I do not use the word Safety to try and make people and companies change”. The approach I take is about working differently and efficiently, which ultimately ends up with improved performance.

So what about this for an idea lets drop the title of safety and those poisoned acronyms of HSE, EHS OHS, and why not see if we can get people to accept the basic principles of completing a job or task correctly. Why not have a simple work guideline which states how to do a job, rather than a ream of shelve filling safety procedures, or OHS guidelines.

Now I know many will read this article and jump to the first point that safety is a legal obligation, or without safety accidents will only increase. But this is not what I’m raising here; it’s about changing our approach in helping people to work efficiently, and by default achieving an improved safety outcome.

So do we really need to have a slogan or crazy scheme to make things happen, I would say no we do not? So thinking caps on everyone, maybe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or do we just keep on acting like dinosaurs and hope that the profession survives to the next ice age.


  1. I love your way of thinking. Everyone want to go for the same and safe route. The “it has worked for others, it will work for me” mentality. The real problem though we facing is changing prospects and clients way of looking at it.

    They all got stuck in a time warp of brand and not human life’s first. A paper exercises is easier to do then investing.

  2. Randall M. Adams, DC permalink

    I agree entirely with the proposal to revamp our terminology, attitudes and management techniques regarding ‘safety’. My ‘safety’ background is Risk Control, as taught at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Risk Control has for at least 20 years espoused this sort of change, which ideally would mesh all the elements formerly known as ‘safety’ into a seamless component of an overarching management system.
    Randall M. Adams, DC, DACBOH, MS, CME
    Chippewa Falls, WI

  3. Great Wayne! My sentiments exactly. I always focus on how to get the work done, discuss issues and how to operate so the task is completed professionally. If you do that, safety is part of it, automatically. I’ve been using HRO protocols focused on task execution and getting A+ results.

  4. Great thought line. I like the concept of working differently and efficiently. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the comment, and Keep on visiting the blog as we will be adding more article in the next few days.

  5. Adeduro Ruth permalink

    Bravo Mr Wayne. I like people with high level of diversity. What most people think about safety is all about accident prevention without adding values to the society and the impacts of our actions on the people and economy. You reminded me of my first presentation on ” Toilet talk”. In the real sense, that was the topic given to me as a town hall talk to some employees on abuse of toilet. With the title, it seems the presentation will be so boring. I only added a word to the title and gave me much to write on the topic which reads “why toilet talk”. People believe toilet talk is about personal hygiene but it turned out to be something everybody had to pay attention to. I told them the cost of their actions on the products, family, the consequence of their actions in the abuse of their toilets etc. Since then, their orientation changed. Safety is beyond hazard control, risk evaluation and some books terminology on safety. A simple idea on how to do things differently we make huge difference out there. We all in this profession need to rise to this new task and do something different. I agree with you. Nice article.

  6. Kochin permalink

    Simple things in life are often the best”. As a safety professional I sometimes struggle when people act like robots and repeat the same line over and over again. For example someone roll his ankle, the robotic analysis of the incident referring back to the shelved procedure will say hypothetically, uneven ground, did not look down when steeping out of the vehicle, did not hold on the staircase, no three points of contact, the boots were not laced up all the way, the risk was not managed properly !! The answer could be none of this. But when feeding back information to management and safety meeting alike, Instead of putting thinking hats on & saying hung on sec let us see if we could come up with simple concept which will work so similar incidents can be prevented, the robotic head is in the captain seat. because, common sense has long gone from safety and thanks to the Tech age people interact with high tech gadgets left, right, centre and thus act like robots these days, and utter the very same parotic lines over and over again.

  7. Rick Lewis permalink

    As always great words of wisdom Wayne, I consider you a mentor and look forward to your article with great interest. I have learnt more here than I ever did on my diploma course.

  8. Keith Voykin permalink

    When starting any Class, Lecture, or simple discussion, the first thing I zero in on is what do these people need! The information has been simplified to the point it only has to understand what the need and venue style that is understandable with all persons attending.

    From there the persons in attendance dictate how they are going to learn the subject matter. Each new concern raised or observed to be unclear or even misinterpreted is the next stepping stone to allow all persons a viewpoint different from their own.

    By using the experiences and limitations of each individual, the group as a whole acquires an understanding of the stabilization, maintenance, and further refinement methods that can be applied in their own circumstances.

    After having spent a number of hours reviewing Wayne’s information, I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing I was on the right track and can continue this approach as an OHS Practitioner with strengthened confidence.

    Thank you.

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