Thought Leadership


Safety words to know – 2014 edition

June 26, 2014
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The ISHN BlogThese words keep surfacing at safety conferences, speeches, articles and conversations and paint a picture of the issues and trends important to the profession here in 2014:

Value – as in, “What’s the value of having a safety professional around here?” No, an executive like Paul O’Neill wouldn’t say OSHA compliance.

Sustainability – slowly, slowly but with incremental credence, the word is thankfully losing its spin.

Risk – senior business leaders “get” what risk means to their organizations in a business school way; “hazards” won’t make their hearts beat faster.

Global – Go to any safety and health conference and just look around at the attendees. Workplace safety is no longer a club for old Uncle Charlie with four fingers and no thumb due to a punch press incident that left him tacking up safety posters.

Supply Chain – as the saying goes, a chain is as strong as its weakest link, and in many a global supply chain stretching from raw materials to finished goods on retail shelves there are some very rusty, worn and unsafe links.

ISO 45001 – the coming world workplace safety standard; don’t fret, it’s voluntary – but it will be the standard

Management Systems – the system here is a never-ending cycle of planning, executing and implementing, auditing and checking, and taking action on what audits turn up. A program that is designed solely to comply with OSHA standards is static, not systematic. Once in place, a compliance program doesn’t change. There is no organizational movement as new unregulated risks emerge.

Apps – OSHA in an app would be the answer to every compliance question.

Oil & gas – in 2014 the most vigorous industry in the U.S. Go to North Dakota and check out who’s staying at extended stay motels. Chances are they have grease beneath their fingernails.

elearning – why does my computer keep trying to capitalize the “e”? Sorry computer, but “computer-based training” is so last year.

Serious injuries and fatalities – known as SIFs. The scourge of companies with world class safety and health management systems. Many of those systems find it hard to bring contractors into the corporate safety fold, and therein lies the SIF rub.

Materiality – the stuff that passes along global supply chains. Sustainable companies, if they’re truly sustaining-oriented, watch the environmental impact of their materials like someone on a diet watches their weight.

RFID tags – Stitched into PPE clothing they can help you find wearers in an emergency.

Wearable technology – The future world beyond RFID tags, where sensors are woven into the fabric of PPE. They’ll generate more data about workers, their behaviors, how and where they spend their time, than safety departments will have time to analyze.

Prevention through Design – Now only if we could get this into the curriculum of schools of architecture.

And please, enough of these words already…

Culture – the word is powerful but in danger of becoming a cliché, or worse another way of saying “program.”

Leadership – does anyone dare admit it: leadership is damn hard. The emperor has no clothes, folks. Enough of the lofty rhetoric about leadership this and leadership that, and you too can be a leader. Maybe, but ya gotta pay the price, as a football coach once said. Know what you’re really getting into here.

Engagement – Participation, involvement, contributions, connections… the words change, the challenge remains: many if not most workers want their pay and want to go home. Period. Another football coach once said, “If you’re not self- motivated there’s nothing I can do for you.” Fancy words won’t change that.

I2P2 – the horse is dead already, OK?

Investigations – it’s hip to say “incident analysis.”

Policing – compliance clean-up work. Reactive. After the fact. Patrolling the status quo.

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