But, We Preach Safety First!

April 17 2023
By: Shawn M. Galloway

How much training focuses on what to do when things do not go as planned?

Finding an industrial location without posted signs encouraging a safety mindset is odd throughout the developed world. Moreover, the more mature the organization, the more often leadership routinely urges employees not to put production over safety. These same individuals express frustration when learning of an employee who took a shortcut or behaved incongruent with expectations when things do not go as planned, such as an upset condition.

american football play written on a chalkboard

In the military, we would train like we fight and fight like we were trained. This training includes developing vital contingency planning skills and responding as a team in changing conditions or encountering additional unanticipated difficulties. In many occupational environments, most training focuses on normal operations or how to perform the work as planned. However, for many reasons, work will often not go as planned in each of these environments throughout the day. The risk of deviations from the plan increases significantly with less experienced workers.

Work to create a culture with your teams where it is safe and expected to discuss when work did not go according to plan, even when outcomes didn't yield any damage, defects or injuries. Embrace those conversations as they are significant operational learning opportunities. Use case studies, events videos, and what-if conversations to develop contingency thinking and habit strength on what to do when things do not go as planned because they will, somewhere, every day. How prepared are your workers?

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." — Robert Burns

"You fight like you train." — George S. Patton Jr.

"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." — Helmuth von Moltke.

Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.

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