Rules Are For Games

January 17 2016
By: Terry L. Mathis

What if you could not develop nor enforce rules for safety? How would you approach the issue? You would still have some tools at your disposal such as training, coaching, and planning. But what would you teach if not the safety rules? What do you coach if not compliance? How could you plan if you did not have the rules to guide your decisions?

Basically, you would find your challenge would be to prepare your workers to make intelligent safety decisions. This would mean workers would need to develop certain skills such as hazard recognition, develop strategies for dealing with the hazards, and manage their own behaviors to ensure they consistently perform in conformity with their knowledge and strategy. In short, your workers would have to manage themselves and they would need to be trained and coached in terms of principles rather than specific rules. They would have to think rather than just comply.

Even though no such ban on safety rules is in our immediate future, there are some ideas here worth considering. Does your safety program prepare workers to deal with risks intelligently or simply to hang their brains at the door, comply with the rules, and do as they are told?

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.

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