Is Safety Messy?

May 17 2021
By: Terry L. Mathis

Professionals tend to like things neat and tidy. Safety is seldom that way. It is not just thinking before you act. It is not just good onboarding and training. It is not just good supervision. It is not just good programs and processes. It is all those things and more. It is a huge conglomeration of factors from physical to psychological to physiological and everything beyond and in between.

Is Safety Messy? It is about imperfect human beings in an imperfect environment trying to accomplish a particular set of goals through practices that are not always perfect with the whims of management and the stasis of culture influencing their every move. It is measured through its failures and managed toward failing less rather than achieving success. The safety department or manager is placed in a silo but needs the assistance and cooperation of most of the other siloes.

It is a set of results that come from well-intentioned, but often imperfect, efforts and when no one gets hurt we don't even know who our efforts saved. Like life, it is messy. But like life, it is critically important and rewarding to those addicted to making it happen.








Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.