From the value of mistakes to how to increase safety staffing on the cheap, the top OSH thinkers shared their views and guidance with ISHN website visitors throughout 2015.


Banning Christmas - The power of safety myths

Thea Dunmire JD-CIH-CSP

December 9, 2015

I am a big fan of PolitiFact and MythBusters. PolitiFact is an independent fact-checking journalism website. It is a division of my local newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times. MythBusters is a television program on the Discovery Channel. The show's hosts test the validity of rumors, myths, movie scenes, adages and Internet videos.


Taking safety too far

Chris R. Pownall

December 2, 2015

As a 71 year old retiree, now occupying myself writing books on various subjects, I occasionally question some of the present day attitudes towards health and safety, both in the workplace as well in everyday living. I accept the need for health and safety controls and regulations to minimise the risk of personal injury, but it some respects, I think things are going too far.


Factor-finding failures

Terry Mathis

November 27, 2015

When new safety programs or processes are rolled out unsuccessfully, there has almost always been a failure to determine either the factors necessary for success, the factors that can contribute to failure, or some combination of both.


Shortcuts are here to stay – go with the flow!

Dominic Cooper Ph.D.

November 24, 2015

People are hard-wired to take shortcuts due to the balance between energy intake (i.e. food) and energy output (i.e. effort spent on an activity) which means we automatically take the “path of least resistance.”


7 habits of highly engaged companies

 David Sarkus MS, CSP

November 18, 2015

About 15 years ago, I read an important engagement story regarding a line worker with a major automotive manufacturer in the United States. The story evolved from an organizational push to gain more involvement from their workers at a time when it was critical.


Who lives, who dies

Thea Dunmire JD-CIH-CSP

November 10, 2015

A week ago, an e-mail newsletter article published by Information Week in honor of Halloween caught my attention. The title was 14 Creepiest Ways to Use Big Data.


Most safety training is low quality stuff

Terry Mathis

November 2, 2015

When OSHA set quantity requirements for annual refresher training without setting stringent quality requirements, safety training began a never-ending downward spiral.


What’s new with mobile apps for safety?

Abby Ferri CSP

October 22, 2015

Almost every worker is now issued a smart phone. Some may even be provided with tablet devices. We’ve come a long way from two-way radios and flip phones. Smart phones and tablets can be a distraction or a production tool. One way that these mobile devices can encourage safe production at the work site is through the use of mobile applications.


The jobsite of the future with wearable tech

Abby Ferri CSP

October 15, 2015

Safety as an industry is somewhat slow to adopt new technology. Years after the release of a popular smartphone app that streamlines jobsite inspection, it is almost a given that a site safety manager uses the app today. After my initial chuckles about the Apple Watch release, I started to think about wearable tech’s application for safety. Specifically, how could a wearable device, like the Apple Watch, impact worker safety?


The jobsite of the future with wearable tech

Abby Ferri CSP

October 12, 2015

Safety as an industry is somewhat slow to adopt new technology. Years after the release of a popular smartphone app that streamlines jobsite inspection, it is almost a given that a site safety manager uses the app today. After my initial chuckles about the Apple Watch release, I started to think about wearable tech’s application for safety. Specifically, how could a wearable device, like the Apple Watch, impact worker safety?

Watching out for the safety of other people

John Drebinger Jr.

October 5, 2015

Are your employees watching out for the safety of other people? It’s time to actually start a movement where we take safety beyond just at work and just about the regulations and the rules -- taking it to a point where we constantly watch out for the safety of other people to become as natural as breathing.


Go to the corners of the jobsite that no one likes to go to

Abby Ferri CSP

September 29, 2015

My heart hurts today. Safety statistics started to play out early this morning. Today in Minneapolis, a construction worker died when he fell 50 feet. Today in Franklin County, Virginia, two journalists were killed by a disgruntled former employee of their station.



Eight phrases that destroy your leadership credibility

September 23, 2015

According to best-selling author and executive coach Wendy Capland, leaders undermine themselves with what she refers to as minimizing language – words and phrases that imply uncertainty and self-effacement even when they’re trying to give the opposite impression.



Safety ain’t what it used to be

 Phil La Duke

September 15, 2015

Safety is a relatively new function. When it was created in the mid 70s, it was typically an assignment tacked on to someone’s existing job. There were no instructions, or templates for doing a good job.



Teddy Roosevelt on safety influence

 David Sarkus MS, CSP

September 9, 2015

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Contemporary research suggests that we can better influence the safety-related opinions, attitudes, and actions of others when we have a large degree of expertise and trustworthiness.



Pura Vida – Your safety legacy

 Mike Williamsen Ph.D., CSP

September 2, 2015

Recently, I was in the Central American country of Costa Rica. While there I kept hearing the phrase Pura Vida as people greeted one another. As I discussed this with our host he gave me two translations; the word by word meaning is the pure life.



Petting the tiger – normalizing safety dangers

 Mike Williamsen Ph.D., CSP

August 19, 2015

For years, the Las Vegas tiger show wowed audiences as Siegfried and Roy petted the tigers. Slowly and lethally the new normal lulled the entertainers into complacency with their truly dangerous pets. And then one day…



Monsoon – Seasonal safety realities

 Mike Williamsen Ph.D., CSP

August 11, 2015

Global and regional companies experience seasonal peculiarities that can have a definite impact on the employees and their families. Last month I received a warning notice from a facility cautioning their employees about “Monsoon June.”



The ethics of saying NO

Thea Dunmire JD-CIH-CSP

August 5, 2015

Yesterday, I was contemplating my “to do” list trying to figure out how I was going to get everything done. I soon realized it was not possible – there simply were not enough hours available to do it all.


Apathy and safety - Don't lose them now

 David Sarkus MS, CSP

July 30, 2015

About 15 years ago, I read an important engagement story regarding a line worker with a major automotive manufacturer in the United States. The story evolved from an organizational push to gain more involvement from their workers at a time when it was critical.


Get set for ISO 14001, and ready for ISO 45001

Greg Roberts  Mike Shaw

July 21, 2015

The revised version of ISO 14001, the international standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS), will be published in September 2015. Greg Roberts, Manager of Sustainability and Mike Shaw, Senior Manager of Health & Safety (H&S) at Ramboll Environ, look at the changes and explore how it will align with the new ISO management system standard for occupational H&S, ISO 45001, being planned for publication in 2016.



Risk assessments present potential for bias

Professional conflicts of interest: Be a team player or a whistleblower?

Thea Dunmire JD-CIH-CSP

July 15, 2015

Last week, Farid Fata, a Michigan doctor, was sentenced to 45 years in jail for subjecting more than 500 patients to cancer treatments they did not need so he could collect millions in insurance payments. According to CBS News, he told healthy patients they were sick, he told sick patients they were dying, and he told dying patients he was their only hope. All in order to file insurance claims.



Procedural justice in safety

 David Sarkus MS, CSP

July 7, 2015

From time-to-time, every organization struggles with procedural justice and safety. And I’ve begun to anticipate such challenges when various safety climate scores indicate such a concern which may be further highlighted through interviews and focus groups.



Safety pros can learn from kangaroos and emus

 Mike Williamsen Ph.D., CSP

July 3, 2015

Two of Australia’s indigenous creatures, kangaroos and emus, have something in common – they seldom move backward. Kangaroos, because of the shape of their body and the length of their strong tail, can bounce along with forward movement, but they cannot easily shift into reverse.



How to add safety staff without spending a dime

Dr. Isabel Perry

July 1, 2015

When safety is a “line-function” and employees can answer some of their own questions, we increase our staff. In order to do this we need to: Provide tools to those in the field to help make solid safety decisions. "Teach them to fish, rather than fishing for them."



Sharing safety stories with your friends

John Drebinger Jr.

June 24, 2015

As an international safety speaker, I have the privilege of sharing safety stories with people all around the world. How often do your friends and family hear you talk about safety? Whenever a situation occurs in your life that illustrates a hazard you avoided or how safety knowledge protected you there is a natural opportunity to share that story with the people you care about.



Making mistakes

Thea Dunmire JD-CIH-CSP

June 19, 2015

Making mistakes is part of being human. There are many factors that contribute to making mistakes, including inattention, lack of experience and over-confidence. In recent years, the field of behavior-based safety has exploded. Much of its focus is on assessing why people make mistakes, and what to do about it.



Where is the safety at Safety Expos?

Larry Curtis CHSM

June 18, 2015

ISHM is proud and honored to be allowed to exhibit at several safety/trade shows/expos yearly. As with most vendors we arrive a day early and use most of the available time to set up our booth area.



Juice – How much safety effort is enough?

 Mike Williamsen Ph.D., CSP

May 27, 2015

The technical detail available to members of our profession is incredible. It also has the potential to be suffocating as the voluminous regulations, ISO policies, procedures, local site requirements, paperwork, basic training, etc. become overwhelming commitments of our time and effort. With all this focus on reactive and condition-based issues, where is the time for a safety engineering focus that goes beyond traditional safety?


Dr. Perry answers OSHA reporting questions

Dr. Isabel Perry

May 26, 2015

Do I Report Heart Attacks? Do I have to report a work-related fatality or in-patient hospitalization caused by a heart attack? Yes, your local OSHA Area Office director will decide whether to investigate the event, depending on the circumstances of the heart attack.


Smile - You're on candid camera

NLRB: Employers prohibited from banning cell phone photography by employees

Thea Dunmire JD-CIH-CSP

May 20, 2015

In the 1960s, there was a popular show called Candid Camera. It was one of the first reality TV shows. The premise of the show was that individuals were secretly filmed after being placed in unusual, ridiculous or embarrassing situations.



Fly Swatter – Fixing Safety Problems

 Mike Williamsen Ph.D., CSP

May 11, 2015

A heavy manufacturing organization commonly used Total Quality Manufacturing (TQM) and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) techniques. They had some small Continuous Improvement (CI) Teams that engaged in solving the front line day-to-day difficulties which commonly occur in operations of organizations worldwide.


Water safety tip - Summer is around the corner

John Drebinger Jr.

May 7, 2015

Two years ago, I published an article about water safety. The response was very dramatic. I have decided to republish this article every year to help everyone enjoy the water with no loss of life. This article is dedicated to Zachary, a young grandson of a fellow safety professional who left this life June 1st a couple of years ago. Below is the original article, the response and my follow-up article.


Evaporative Acts – Addressing front line safety culture weaknesses

 Mike Williamsen Ph.D., CSP

May 6, 2015

Recently, one of our safety pro acquaintances made a disturbing discovery --his responsibility for improving safety was being hampered by a culture of evaporative acts in the work groups with whom he was to meet. His approach of engaging in open-ended safety conversations with front line employees had developed trust among many of the people at each of the work sites.


Eight critical elements of your vehicle/driver safety program

Spencer McDonald

April 30, 2015

Is driver safety seen and acted on by senior management as a critical safety issue? Frequently we see lip service paid to driver safety, with strong statements of corporate commitment but an absence of meaningful action.


Wearable technology for safety’s sake --- Mothers’ Day gifts

Dr. Isabel Perry

April 28, 2015

With the advent of wearable technology, it may be a low cost bodyguard to bring you home safe and sound. Below are a few options: Cuff --A small device that fits into pieced of jewelry. Billed as “smart jewelry.” Cuff has benign features, like phone notification and activity tracking.


Safety – Let’s get rigorous and tenacious

Spencer McDonald

April 24, 2015

Earlier in my career, I was fortunate enough to have worked for a few organizational giants like NASA, TRW, and United Airlines. Within these organizations, I was exposed to the rigors of systems thinking, Total Quality Management (TQM), and the Baldrige Award efforts of the 1990s.


Safety is a skill -- not a habit

John Drebinger Jr.

April 22, 2015

How many times do you hear someone say safety needs to be a habit? I think people who are great at something display more than outstanding habits; they demonstrate outstanding skill. It is easy to mistake a skill for a habit.


Can you talk about business & safety economics?

Joseph DeMaria Ph.D., CSH

April 16, 2015

As a safety team member, leader or manager you should understand the basic principle, vision and values of why your company was created.  It either provides a needed product to a consumer base or valuable service to an industry or community.



Human traits and safety, the good, bad and the ugly

John Drebinger Jr.

April 14, 2015

Working with people is always fun for me because everyone is different. Different in how they think and behave. Also, people have different traits, values and beliefs that shape who they are. Some traits are good, some traits are bad and some traits are ugly.

The nerd factor and safety

 David Sarkus MS, CSP

April 8, 2015

In the National Football League (NFL), there’s a term bantered about by owners, management, coaches, and scouts - it’s “the nerd factor.” In the NFL, it’s a positive term because it often translates into success.



Are you ready for a safety stand-down?

Dr. Isabel Perry

April 6, 2015

What is a Safety Stand-Down? A Safety Stand-Down is an event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. In 2015 OSHA is focusing on "Fall Hazards" and to reinforce the importance of "Fall Prevention."



Safety managers and their roles

Debra Fisher CSHM, CSHP

April 1, 2015

As a frontline worker I understand my safety role and responsibilities, along with federal, state and local regulations and what is expected of my employer. What I have concern about is... how many businesses don't utilize the safety expertise of a safety professional if "safety is their overriding priority" or "safety is their value."



Three essential hard skills that safety pros need to succeed

Leonard Vroegindewey

March 30, 2015

The term hard skills are defined as "specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured. By contrast, soft skills are less tangible and harder to quantify.



What attitudes can turn a normally good driver into a risk-taking one

Spencer McDonald

March 26, 2015

Answers: A feeling that everyone is out to get me or hold me up; Judgments about other driver's actions 'everyone else is a lousy driver' that leads to frustration.



Thank people for watching out for their own safety

John Drebinger Jr.

March 25, 2015

Yesterday, I was buying gas and as I was getting out of my car I noticed a couple standing over on the grass next to the sidewalk. They were both smoking and having what appeared to be a pleasant conversation.



Your window of opportunity

 David Sarkus MS, CSP

March 19, 2015

I was in Atlanta last week for a conference and was having breakfast off the lobby area.  The omelet man who was nearby was doing what he does nearly every morning.



Making safety personal – it starts with you

 David Sarkus MS, CSP

March 13, 2015

If you want your managers and front-line leaders to have more influence and impact with your workers, they need to get more personal and transparent. Getting personal allows leaders to deliver a message that will have impact and help workers align their actions with their personal values.



The hypocrisy of some “socially responsible” companies

Thea Dunmire JD-CIH-CSP

March 11, 2015

I got an e-mail recently from a colleague in which he expressed his displeasure with a business partner who was very late in paying him.  What was particularly troubling to him was the fact that the partner’s business was based on selling integrity.



Inspiring quotes for safety committees

Dr. Isabel Perry

March 4, 2015

Use these quotes one at a time with your committee. As an ice-breaker, ask team members what they think the quote means. That short exercise will open their minds to success. Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those doing it. -Chinese Proverb

Listen to your internal moral compass

Spencer McDonald

March 2, 2015

As we all become caught up in the business of life and perceived need to hurry, accomplish, arrive on time; and as we find ourselves powerless at times and disrespected at others, it is useful to stop and think, what might the Buddha do?



Let’s get out of the blame and shame business

 Phil La Duke

February 27, 2015

Just Culture is a management philosophy designed to hold people appropriately accountable. According to one of the current thought leaders in Just Culture, there are three basic kinds of behavior: human error, at risk behavior, and recklessness.



You get back what you send out

John Drebinger Jr.

February 25, 2015

Years ago, around the campfire, I heard this story and have told it to every troop of which I have been a Scoutmaster. Two brothers were leaving the town they had lived in for several years. They were both moving to a new town many miles away.



Fear of "What if..."

Thea Dunmire JD-CIH-CSP

February 19, 2015

The fear of “what if” is a significant driver in making ethical decisions. This fear can lead to positive results •  Fear of getting in an accident – can prevent drinking and driving •  Fear of getting caught – can prevent falsifying information •  Fear of hurting someone else – can prevent unsafe behavior.



Safety as a value

John Drebinger Jr.

February 17, 2015

When safety is a personal value people naturally choose to make the safe choice. They don't need a no-texting or seat belt law. They even use hearing protection and safety glasses at home.



Outstanding example of a safety briefing

John Drebinger Jr.

February 12, 2015

Recent I joined the BNSF Road Way Equipment Safety Leadership Team in Dallas, Texas. They began their meeting, as many companies do, with a safety briefing. For most meetings, I hear someone give a quick safety minute talk about a general hazard. At many meetings, the emergency exits are pointed out and actions to take are shared. BNSF went way beyond that in just about the same amount of time.



Avoid this safety “litter”

Leonard Vroegindewey

February 10, 2015

In every profession there is reality and the perception of the reality thrust upon us on a daily basis. Our Oil and Gas industry is littered with statements, idioms and ideas about how we should discuss and market health and safety to our personnel.



Lone gunman-based safety

 Phil La Duke

February 5, 2015

Ever since Jack Ruby gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald while being transferred from a Dallas police station to county jail debate has raged as to whether or not Oswald acted alone or if he was part of a larger conspiracy.



Basic steps to build a safety strategic plan

Dr. Isabel Perry

February 3, 2015

Strategy is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals. Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve these goals are usually limited. Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions.



Influence above and beyond authority

 David Sarkus MS, CSP

January 29, 2015

More and more of safety and health professionals want to talk about influence rather than authority. You see, they understand that relying primarily on position or rank will simply lead to compliance -- not to individual commitment.

Taking a new look at safety

 Phil La Duke

January 27, 2015

Let me begin by thanking all of you who voiced your support for me during the past week. As you may have surmised, I get frustrated from time to time, mostly because so many safety practitioners still don’t get it.



How to succeed with your safety strategic plan

Dr. Isabel Perry

January 23, 2015

Some of the most common strategic planning mistakes can be very costly. Any one of them can turn the process upside down. Below are some methods to ensure success:



How big is your safety vision?

John Drebinger Jr.

January 21, 2015

In the past 25 years, I have watched the safety profession grow. I remember listening to leaders speak of achieving zero disabling injuries. It seemed as impossible to some people then as achieving zero recordable injuries seems to many people today.



When employer and employee expectations conflict…

Thea Dunmire JD-CIH-CSP

January 14, 2015

One of the more difficult situations in which to make an ethical decision is when more than one person is potentially impacted by your action and their expectations of how you should proceed are in conflict.



Four roadblocks to strategic safety planning success

Dr. Isabel Perry

January 12, 2015

Strategic planning is a process that provides structure to move an organization toward higher levels of achievement in safety or other areas of interest. The most common challenges to strategic planning are:



New Year’s resolutions for safety pros

 Phil La Duke

January 6, 2015

This time of year makes the best of us reflective and after doing some soul searching and reflecting I came up with a short list of things I think we as professionals can do to be even more effective: