“Getting” safety includes not just understanding the importance of it, but also having a willingness to personally invest yourself in the process – and that's when three things start to look and feel different.
The lone genius is a nice idea, but it isn’t real life. In real life, great visionaries are supported by a wide variety of people who help shape the ideas, build the processes, generate demand and deliver the outcomes.
During the recent Occupational Keynote at the 2014 NSC Congress & Expo, OSHA administrator David Michaels stirred up a little controversy when he said, “Just focusing on personal responsibility isn’t useful, and it isn’t the law.”
There’s some interesting work being done in areas around the world that are known for long histories of conflict. Several organizations are taking a fresh look at how to overcome poverty, factional violence and the legacy of repression that have dominated these environments for so long – and create a different future.
When leaders first engage safety in a real way, they are often surprised by what they learn. Safety is more complex than they thought, more tied to operational excellence, more indicative of the health of the organization, and so on.
In a perfect world, safety would be easy. Leaders would look at past incidents, identify how to avoid them and make sure everyone followed the rules. But real life is not so simple. The workplace is always changing – making it critical that employees be able to detect and respond to real-time changes in risk.
As safety leaders, we focus on helping our organizations become and stay safe. We strive to understand the exposures employees face and find ways of systematically reducing them. We pride ourselves on building cultures that won’t tolerate risk, and developing leaders who carry that mission forward every day.
Three years ago, the first baby boomers reached retirement age, officially launching the demographic shift that will change the workforce as we know it. But it is not just a shortage of people that is driving change; it is a shortage of skills.