August 30 2015
By: Terry L. Mathis
The clamor about "zero accidents" just hasn't gone away. Some argue that it is not the right goal for safety nor the definition of excellence and others argue that it is the ONLY proper goal and definition of safety excellence. Here's the problem: zero accidents is a destination. Even if that is where you want to be, you have to get there and stay there. Talking about the destination is not all that is needed to take a trip. You need a vehicle to get you there. You can talk about your destination and describe it and praise it and preach about it; but none of that will get you there. Sadly, most existing safety programs aren't capable of getting you there either.
So, what is the vehicle that can get you to zero accidents? THAT depends on your starting place. Some can walk there, some need an ATV, others a boat, and others an aircraft. There is no one vehicle that is ideal for everyone! But, the vehicle is the thing that can get you to the magical land of zero, and culture is the thing that can best keep you there. So, what is the definition of safety excellence? The destination or the vehicle? I think we need to focus more on the trip!
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.