One of the ways organisations like to emphasise safety is with corporate branding: safety moments, safety conversations, safety leadership and so on. But we don't seem to have to do this for any other part of our business.
We don't stop for a "production" moment before every meeting. Why not?
Probably because everyone knows that production is important. It is part of the organisational DNA.
We can't just have a "conversation". It has to be a "safety" conversation. Why? Why can't we just have a conversation with people and draw conclusions about safety rather than brand a conversation "safety"?
Genuine care and concern for people doesn't need a label, it just happens. When I sit with my family around the table at dinner time we don't open with a "love" moment, because we love each other. I don't have "love" conversations with my wife, we just speak to each other.
One of the things I have been writing and speaking about the several years now is the notion of the Safety Paradox – the idea that initiatives we put in place for health and safety have the potential to improve safety, but also have the potential to undermine it. Safety branding suffers from this also.
When we put safety in boxes – moments, conversations, Take 5, JHA – it becomes mental bureaucracy. A checklist. We have had the moment, we have filled in the form – safety is done!
At best it is a process, at worst it actively disengages workers (think sunglasses down, arms crossed and looking at boots during the safety moment).
If safety actually matters in an organisation it doesn't need a label. It is part of the organisational DNA.
It is reasonably easy to spot in an organisation, and reasonably easy to test yourself. Ask yourself, what did I do today that helped support my organisation's business and production objectives? Did I have to stop and consciously think "I need to make sure I talk to my team members about doing a good job and ensuring business outcomes" – or did that just happen?
Ask yourself the same question for safety.