The new rules of safety: The future ain’t what it used to be

Disrupt the status quo and do better things. ‘Up to 80% of work roles as we currently know them will vanish in the next two years. Whilst the health and safety profession has grown rapidly over the last 30 years, it is not immune to change’, says Andrew Sharman.

In August 2014 I wrote an article for SHP magazine (‘To boldly go) which identified a series of future trends with regard to workplace safety. The article was based on research I had conducted with multinational organizations around the globe, and focused on four strategic themes:

future

Drivers and challenges for safety

50% of respondents said a desire to improve performance was the primary motivator for action on improving workplace safety.

Innovation and inspiration

Whilst there were leading lights identified, a majority of respondents pointed to the usefulness of benchmarking and networking with peers.

Confidence and competence

Heavy reliance on accident statistics (50%), but a move towards external assurance of progress (culture surveys and system audits). Big issue was sharing the responsibility for safety amongst senior leaders.

Future focus

The research pointed out three key areas for future focus: Psychology of risk and safety, Leadership, and Wellbeing. Certainly these three areas have become big news for many organisations nowadays, but there’s one area no-one saw coming…

A radical change in work as done today

Dramatic disruption

You’ve seen how Netflix displaced the Blockbuster video store to let us stream rather than own entertainment and become a leading film and television production companies. You’ve watched the demise of vinyl, CDs and audio cassettes as Apple has done the same with music, but let’s look further. Disruption is all around us.

Software will disrupt traditional industries. Think about it: Uber is just a software tool – they don’t own any vehicles yet they’re the biggest taxi firm on the planet. AirBnB is the world’s biggest hotel company but they don’t own any properties.

Artificial intelligence will seep further into the workplace as computers get exponentially better at understanding the world. At a secret research facility in California this week I interacted with a robot that I would have sworn was human. And they’re smart too – a Google computer recently beat the world’s best Go (ancient Chinese board game) player. IBM’s Watson system dispenses legal advice in seconds with 90% accuracy (compared to 70% accuracy of an average law clerk). Watson does more than law, though, and is already helping nurses diagnose cancer – four times more accurately than humans. And Qualcomm has a wireless handheld device that monitors our health in real-time, diagnosing 12 health conditions and capturing five vital signs in seconds. No more trips to the doctor.

Autonomous transportation is driving forward. This year we will see the first self-driving cars. By 2020 they will have disrupted the 150-year-old automotive industry. Babies born today will never have a driver’s licence and never own a car. As a result, the 1.2 million figure of people killed each year in vehicle accidents – or one every 100,000 km will plummet to just one every 10 million km, saving a million lives every year.

Every industry will be disrupted – and the world will get bigger

Maastricht University has successfully grown a hamburger from beef stem cells in a laboratory petri dish. ‘Cellular agriculture’ or ‘cultured meat’ will become the cheapest source of beef by 2019. Right now, 30% of the world’s farm land is used for cattle – imagine if that space is no longer needed.

Auto repair garages will disappear. The average petrol engine has 20,000 parts compared to just 20 parts in an electric equivalent and the entire engine can be removed and replaced in under 30 minutes. The growth of electric vehicles will decimate filling stations and oil companies will dwindle. The energy industry as a whole will dramatically change as more homes install solar and alternate energy systems to generate their own power and sell surplus back to the grid. Those vast, bulky power stations will close and be removed from your landscape. As roads become dominated by electric self-driving vehicles shared by everyone multi-storey parking lots will become redundant.

Kodak moments

futureIn 1997 Kodak dominated the world of photography, with 170,000 employees and 85% of the market share of photo papers. A year later digital photography took off, but Kodak couldn’t adapt to the change. In January 2012 Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Ironically Kodak invented the first digital camera in 1975, but couldn’t fully envisage a world without printed photo. Their own creation was their downfall.

History is littered with these ‘Kodak moments’: Coke and Pepsi couldn’t conceive of energy drinks. Hoover ignored cyclone technology. Nokia forgot to innovate. Travel Agents didn’t see Booking.com coming. Borders dismissed eBooks. EMI missed the Beatles.

Next stop: you

Up to 80% of work roles as we currently know them will vanish in the next two years. Whilst the health and safety profession has grown rapidly over the last 30 years, it is not immune to change.

As Henry Ford said: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.”

It’s not enough to do better. We need to do better things.

The New Rule of Safety #21: The future ain’t what it used to be

The world is now turning faster than ever before. Where will the disruption to the way you work come from? What could put a dent in how your industry works? How can you positively disrupt the way safety is done?

Andrew’s global best-selling books From Accidents to Zero: A Practical Guide to Improving Your Workplace Safety Culture; Mind Your Own Business: What Your MBA Should Have Taught You About Safety (co-authored with Dame Judith Hackitt); and Safety Savvy (with Tim Marsh) are all available to SHPonline readers with an exclusive 25% discount. Use the code SHP25 at www.fromaccidentstozero.com to order your copies now.

Read Andrew’s New Rules of Safety series on SHP here.

Categories: Behavioural Safety, Blog, Culture And Behaviours, Disruptive, New Safety and Health, Workplace psychology


You May Also Be Interested In

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Author Bio ▼

Andrew Sharman

Andrew is the CEO of RMS Switzerland, a global consultancy specialising in safety behaviour, culture and leadership. With offices in the UK, and Switzerland.  RMS has an enviable track record of improving culture and enabling excellence for NGOs and blue chip organisations around the world through industry sectors including aviation, automotive, mining, construction, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and FMCGs. Find out more at www.RMSswitzerland.com

Andrew is also Professor of Leadership & Safety Culture at the European Centre for Executive Development in Fontainebleau, France, and Professor of Risk Management at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.  He is a Chartered Fellow and Vice President of the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH); a Fellow of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management; and a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management.

Far from being risk-averse, he loves adventure sports including climbing, free flying, sea kayaking and swimming with sharks. He uses these pursuits to re-energise the language, perceptions and functions of safety and risk management and align the disciplines with broader organisational issues driving positive impact and enhancing the performance of individuals, teams and businesses.

Read Andrew’s New Rules of Safety series on SHP here.

Andrew’s book From Accidents to Zero is one of the fastest-selling books on safety culture of the 21st  century, find out more at www.fromaccidentstozero.com and enter code SHP 25 to receive an exclusive 25% discount for SHPonline readers.

August 3, 2018

Visit Safety & Health Expo, the UK’s largest health and safety event and conference

Are you aware of the Barbour EHS brand?