As smart as you think you are in Safety in 2016 even superman needs to not just train up but understand the risks associated around the job, not just the economy.
Demonstrating value in the profession will be a challenge: Most large companies in North America have become fixated on rules like an angry parent trying to have their child behave. You don’t drive down the road admiring all the good drivers, you drive down the road looking out for the bad ones because they are the ones that can kill you. Think of it as ‘situational awareness.’ You are making yourself aware of the dangers around you and neutralising them.
By making clear rules and ratcheting up the penalties for disobedience, they strive to have a perfect workplace free from “unsafe acts or behaviours.” Such workplaces have “zero tolerance” for “unsafe acts” in the workplace. With an economy that is struggling, companies always turn to the one cost they can most easily control — labour. Specifically overhead — those position that do not generate revenue directly. Already we see companies choosing not to fill positions and as we move forward, those in overhead positions, such as safety professionals, will be under more pressure to demonstrate value.
This is problematic, particularly for the adherents to the cult of zero. If we consistently promise zero and zero actually happens, then how do we show value? Besides, zero takes a lot of resources in times of belt tightening. Of course, this all goes back to the argument of measuring the right things. Measuring your success on an outcome that you can only influence is a pretty dangerous line to walk.
This active ignoring of negative outcomes – sometimes called ‘positive thinking’ – can lead to the belief that the hundreds of safety incidents that happen every day around the country on construction sites won’t happen to me. “I’m too skilled, experienced, strong, smart, quick”…I’ve heard them all. “I’m Superman, nothing can touch me. I won’t slip on the ladder, why do I need three points of contact? I’ve done it a million times and I’m fine.”