Reality Disconnected

October 02 2023
By: Shawn M. Galloway

Visiting a family member who works in a major construction trade, he shared a recent communication from their safety department. The message aimed to bring attention to slips, trips, and falls. It included a statement "Falling downstairs produces more severe injuries than falling on flat surfaces." He asked me, "Do they think we are idiots?"

I have a friend on the financial leadership team of a major oil and gas company who continues to demonstrate dedication to pursuing safety excellence. He is bought into the safety culture. He carries practices to his personal life, including practicing safety behaviors at home. Illustration of a blindfolded person in a suit, question mark above their head, with a bow and arrow pointing away from a target He happily attended when a major reorganization and teambuilding exercise of bowling was scheduled. As they were greeting old and new colleagues, he was told by the leader, "Before you pick out your bowling ball, please fill out this Job Safety Analysis (JSA) form," immediately disengaging someone who was actively engaged and felt a sense of ownership for requested safety practices. Safety must be strategic. This means two things:

  1. Ensure what you are focusing on is the most important area of focus for preventing injuries (frequency and severity). Data should drive these decisions, and opinions relied on as a last resort.
  2. Ensure the perception of value is created with the areas of focus. If we disengage, demotivate, distract, or create distrust with our safety improvement efforts, you end up with a 'have-to' culture at best.

How strategically focused are your efforts? What data validates this? Do you have a culture of have-to or want-to? This is much easier to ascertain than many leaders realize. How in touch with reality are your safety improvement efforts?

"To add value to others, one must first value others." — John C. Maxwell

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen." — Ernest Hemingway

"Until you understand your customers — deeply and genuinely — you cannot truly serve them." — Rasheed Ogunlaru

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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