Stop Breathing Your Own Exhaust

August 30 2021
By: Shawn M. Galloway

Engagement is three things: buy-in, participation and ownership. Safety professionals shouldn't own safety; contractors, employees, supervision, management and executive leadership owns safety. That means we need them to buy-in to this idea and participate in efforts to improve both safety performance and culture. Safety professionals should be both technical and strategic advisors, guiding decisions, facilitating line leadership's safety responsibilities, creating ownership and nudging progress forward.

In a culture where the safety thinking is immature and the decisions on how to improve are left to the safety professional, they can fall into the trap of breathing their own exhaust. Nothing is better than their idea, program, methodology, training, etc. I see this regularly with several consultants. Their one size fits all approach is the best!

Stop Breathing Your Own Exhaust There is nothing wrong with ownership by pride of creation, as long as we remember there will always be a better way to do something, new creative ways to progress. All cultures are unique, including their history of successes and failures. What works in one company, may be a horrible idea in another. When within the culture, intentional collaboration and the mindset that best-practices do not last forever is common, continuous improvement will be possible. Stay open to the idea that your way is a way, not the only way.

"When you create something, you can fall in love with it and aren't able to see or hear anything contrary. Whatever comes out of your mouth is all you're inhaling…" Lisa Gansky







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 650 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 and Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers.