Author Bio ▼

Andrew SharmanAndrew 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.comAndrew 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 and enter code SHP 25 to receive an exclusive 25% discount for SHPonline readers.
May 30, 2018

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New Rules of Safety

The New Rules of Safety

For years, Andrew Sharman has been writing ‘The New Rules of Safety’ for Safety and Health Practitioner. Now, SHP brings together all of his articles under one roof.

Talking about a resolution

In his first article of the series, I, Andrew Sharman, look at the traditional of New Year’s resolutions. According to research from Harvard University, with less than 10% of us sticking to them, I look at how to plan for safety resolutions for the year ahead to improve the chance of success.


One small step for mankind, one giant leap for safety

In the second blog for The New Rules of Safety, I explain how a chance meeting on an aeroplane led to a reflection of the culture at NASA when the challenger exploded 30 years ago, and where a culture of risk wasn’t fully understood by the leaders.



Strengthening your safety culture: a tale of two leaders

I describe how a week in Siberia, alongside battling the cold, has left him intrigued by two leaders with different styles and how they can be used to motivate and influence.



Catching the safety virus: the power and potency of social contagion

It’s that time of year isn’t it?  The guy on the train sneezes, and a couple of days later you’ve caught his cold.  Your kid comes back from school with a runny nose, and soon you have the same.

The teacher helpfully adds that “most of the children have the same right now”.  There’s something ‘going around’. But what if emotions are contagious too?


The savvy safety leader’s guide to spotting a wrong ‘un

During our safety leadership workshops I’m often asked “What are the key traits or behaviours of a great safety leader?” No matter where I am around the world, the question always pops up from both operational leaders and H&S practitioners, apparently keen to improve. My reply tends to based on a list of attributes of people I deem to be great leaders, which have become noticeable over a period of time.


Anarchy in the UK? Or just ‘how we do things around here’?

During a visit to London last week I took my place on the underground train next to a most elegantly attired businessman: Savile Row suit, smart Church’s black loafers, Liberty tie, safety pin on the lapel of his jacket.  Wait, what was that? Yes, a safety pin. Right there, on his left lapel, in the place where a flower might go if he were on the way to a wedding, or where a pin-badge showing his alumni or professional association would proudly be. A safety pin – a regular old thing from the domestic sewing basket. Curious?


Weights, dates and frequency rates – when is ‘good enough’, good enough?

Dropping my bag at Capetown International Airport today I was surprised to be told that it was overweight.

I have a handy portable digital luggage scale with which I check my hold bag before heading to the airport – it had shown me 18.8kg, but the check in clerk advised it was over 21kg.  What happened?


Searching for silver bullets in safety: focus on the ‘how’

Traditionally, when it comes to workplace safety, we focus on the what – the processes, systems and activities, the audits, investigations and inspections, the reviews, checks and balances.

Safety departments load up on action lists as they devise strategic plans that move them forward in their relentless pursuit of zero accidents.


The Big Bang Theory

Many of us will have started the new year with a bang. In December 2016 the British Fireworks Association advised that sales of ‘New Year’s Fireworks’ had increased to record levels. A spokesperson from the British Pyrotechnists Association anticipated that New Year’s Eve displays would “reach new heights”. Writing this dispatch from San Francisco I can confirm that Stateside, sunny Californian skies were transformed at night-time into sparkling disco mirror balls with members of both the American Pyrotechnics Association and the National Fireworks Association gleefully suggesting that fireworks “make the new year celebrations magnificent”. But not so in Rome…


Statistics don’t stir us, people do

Heads, hearts and hands – why you prefer Netflix to numbers. Here we explain how stories of people are more effective than statistics…

As I drove to the airport recently a sea of red tail lights flooded my view. The traffic jammed. I noticed that the carriageway in the opposite direction had begun to slow too.



The Lion, the Switch and Nairobi: how our eyes turn us blind

As I write this I’m in Nairobi, the fantastic capital city of Kenya. Arriving after an easy long-haul flight from Geneva, with plenty of good in-flight movies, I’m happy to be here.

After all, Nairobi is famous for being the only city on our planet that has a game reserve actually within the city limits.




Russians are efficient, Chinese like to take it slowly

Juxtaposing the similarities and differences of global stereotypes. I’ve spent the last 4 weeks in 4 different countries. But this isn’t a tale of the woes of long-haul travel, nor the pains of jetlag. It’s all about cultural congruence.

Anyone who has ever visited Germany, Africa, Russia or China will certainly have their own souvenirs of the experience – each country is quite unique – and often easily stereotyped. Is every culture really different? Or are there some common aspects?


The Swiss chainsaw massacre

On a Friday afternoon, sitting under a tree on the banks of Lake Geneva, eating Italian ice-cream with a German colleague something extraordinary happened. On the other side of the road, standing precariously on the top of a pile of tree branches heaped onto the back of a small truck, was a man with a petrol-driven chainsaw in his hand. It was clear that we were witnessing an accident in the making. And then it happened…



Reflecting on health and safety at Tesla

People are at the heart of safety culture excellence, not machines. Over the last few years Tesla, makers of some very cool electric vehicles, has struggled with safety.

Between 2013 and 2016 Tesla’s accidents rates have been some 30% more than industry average, according to Worksafe – and paramedics arrived at their Californian plant more than 100 times between May 2014 and May 2017.


Apocalypse, now?  Don’t believe the hype!

As there really a need for a radical safety revolution? I assess the apocalypse. To be honest, I’m tired.  Really tired.  Is this what ‘The End of The World’ feels like?

Every day for the last couple of months my Inbox has been bombarded with the ‘latest updates’ from safety journals and online forums, on receipt of each I have felt a little more dejected.


Safety isn’t sexy: mind your own business!

It’s been an interesting few days. It all started with the IOSH annual conference, then to participate in a webinar for Barbour with my friend and co-author Dame Judith Hackitt, and finally to teach at an Executive Business School near Paris.

All week one thing has been sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb.  How we talk about ‘health and safety’.


Life is a quotation

In my books and my articles I’ve frequently pushed for us to be more forward-focused in safety.  Rather than getting caught up in trying to trying to prevent accidents. I’ve argued that an inputs-driven approach to creating safety is vital.

Over dinner this evening with a client in Louisiana, USA, my companion reminded me of the importance of learning from the past and his reciting of various quotations recalled my own passion for historical wisdom.


The future ain’t what it used to be

futureDisrupt 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’.

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.


Question everything!

Curious GeorgeJanuary is a time where we look back and see how well our plans have come to fruition and start to strategize for the next year ahead. What will we do? What can we achieve? What are our new targets?

Sophisticated frameworks, complex charts, and strategic performance indicators are all created to help leaders and organisations get closer to safety excellence. But the truth is that your strategy fails or succeeds on how leaders – at every level in the company – integrate with the people across the organisation.


Ask the RIGHT questions!

How can you, as an OSH practitioner be more strategic as a leader? You can start by asking yourself – and your team or OSH department – the five questions in this article.

They’ll leverage off each other and help you build a solid strategic approach to workplace OSH and increase your chances of success as an practitioner, leader and as a team.

“What do we need to work on today?”, “Why are we working on this now?”, “How does what I’m working on align with the big picture?”, “What does success look like?” and “What else?”.


Believe it. Or not.

BeliefHow organisational culture is created – and diluted – and considers the four key elements that practitioners should consider when seeking to establish a robust culture of care in their workplaces.

Culture forms one person at a time. Every action of every person contributes, every day. The psychological beliefs that underpin behaviours are key to the creation of culture – whether your focus is on compliance, commitment, or care. What safety beliefs would you like your workers to have? And how are you encouraging these effectively?


Be careful what you measure

Be careful what you measure 1It’s vital to provide clarity around what you expect in terms of workplace safety, yet whilst it may be tempting to want to record everything in numerical terms, some of our expectations – especially those related to worker behaviour – may not be quite so easy to quantify.

Think about the process of observing workers in your organisation. Are your workers acting so as to be seen in ‘the best light’? What happens when the light stops shining on them? Does their behaviour change like the workers at Hawthorne?


Pace and urgency

Old Way New Way

Andrew 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.

“As we take tentative steps to prepare for recovery from the coronavirus 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?”


They are not human resources!

SelectionDuring a meeting with his career hero, Andrew explores the difference between management and leadership and why trust is a hard-won but essential ingredient in achieving organisational goals.

As Charles Handy reminds us, work needs to be organised, things should be managed, but people can only be encouraged, inspired, and led.



A brave new world?

Brave new worldWhat a year 2020 has been with the pandemic as we were all thrust into facing an unprecedented crisis. COVID-19, the coronavirus, has disrupted global networks and created new challenges within workplaces, for organisations around the world. In practice, the early stages of a crisis can affect leaders in two ways: first, there can be a perceived (or real) loss of control. Second, the events of a crisis typically outpace the response by the organisation, especially as the crisis begins to unfold.


Safety is a virus

coronavirusWe’re 18 months into COVID-19 and things still seem quite uncertain, don’t they? Variants and vaccines, rules and requirements, this way or that way… It seems like there’s still lots we don’t understand about the coronavirus.

So, what do we know? Well, we know that it spreads person to person. It’s infectious. We catch it from others. And I reckon this could be an interesting way to think about safety.


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