The New Rules of Safety
The New Rules of Safety: Pace and urgency
Professor Andrew Sharman explores how leadership communications influence not just the pace of work, but the urgency of worker safety and offers a new way for leaders to talk about production without creating a contest between safety and getting the job done.
Like many people over the past few weeks and months, I have been both observing and living the ramifications and impact of the COVID-19 crisis. As we take tentative steps to prepare for recovery from the crisis everyone from politicians, employers and individuals are formulating our own individual solutions and responses to address the concerns we all have about the virus. Whether that be from our potential customers, staff, suppliers through to our family members, as we think about our return to “normal”. But I wonder, will we return to normal, or do we reset to something new and rethink everything?
When I think about the return to work, I think about the observation Alan Quilley shared with me around a shop-floor conversation between managers and workers. A common question is often ‘How quickly can you get that job done?”. By adding just one word to this sentence we can completely change the response we encourage in others. Al’s suggestion was that we change the question to “How quickly can you get that job done safely?”. In my time working with leaders and managers around the world, each of them have been blown away by how simple it is to demonstrate their own personal commitment to safety and still maintain their focus on getting the products out of the door.
In my book ‘From Accidents to Zero’ I highlight that strong, visible, management commitment is the basic component of any successful safety management system and this commitment must always start at the top, permeating down through all levels of the organisation. To achieve zero accidents, leaders must sincerely believe that safety is equally as important as any other business aspect such as quality, productivity and cost. These are themes that I discuss time and again in my workshops. After much contemplation and interrogation of myself on this subject over the past few months, I came to the conclusion that this really hasn’t changed.
What has changed is the focus and spotlight that the world has now placed on our safety, and the importance of focus on our safety at the highest level of leadership. Like nothing before, COVID has demonstrated how safety is integral to the very existence of every organisation and the interconnection and dependencies that exist between all our safety’s, and the devastating health and economic impact if we get this wrong.
The New Rule of Safety #26: Pace and urgency
It has often been said that change is the new normal. As Charles Darwin pointed out way back in the mid 19th century “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent…It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”
It is with that mindset that we need to use the opportunity of the pandemic to really change. As we return to work we must avoid the ‘How quickly can we get that done?’ and work to reposition safety as a core business value, at the centre of all our decisions, at the core of our communications, and at the heart of every great leader.
Read more of Andrew’s New Rules of Safety, here.
 Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species is considered to the foundation of evolutionary biology. First published in 1859
Professor Andrew Sharman is a consultant to leaders at Apple, BMW, Burberry, IKEA, Heineken, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Tata, and more, and the co-creator of the world’s only IOSH certificate in Behavioural Safety Leadership, find out more here. Email [email protected] and quote SHP25 to get 25% off your course.
In From Accidents to Zero – the world’s best-selling book on safety culture – Sharman shares more than 80 questions that help leaders drive strategic safety improvement, improve culture and enable excellence. Get your copy of the book with an exclusive 25% discount by using the code SHP25 at www.fromaccidentstozero.com.
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