It’s time to shed some time-honored practices within the safety profession.

Why? According to Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Further to the point from Tony Brigmon, former Ambassador of FUN for Southwest Airlines, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got!”

It’s about time to do something different.

Let’s start by doing away with any and all awards for any and all periods without a lost-time accident. So what? We’ve gone a long time without hurting somebody BAD. We’ve learned to manage and manipulate the workers’ compensation system. We’ve got a great vacation program. Wouldn’t it be better to award those who have learned how to not hurt them AT ALL.

Next let’s drop the current metrics — total recordable cases — days away, transferred or restricted. Why? These measurements are contradictions as compared to standard business metrics. In business we measure against what we plan to do. Yes we must consider defects or when things don’t go right, but the concept is simple — measure what you planned to deliver to the customer. And these measurements can be obtained at any point in time or at multiple points during the process. No wonder we get strange looks and receptions when we show up once a month or quarter and talk about what we did not plan to happen — accidents, injuries and illness.

It’s about time to NOT have our safety defined by compliance. Compliance is the law, a given and in many cases does not cover some of our most vexing safety issues. Where do we go in compliance language to prevent strains and sprains to any body part? Where do we go in compliance language to prevent cuts and lacerations? Compliance is only a baseline. Leading organizations give compliance its due consideration. However, exemplary performance is obtained through hazard identification and reduction, risk assessment and reduction and looking to eliminate human error or mitigate the consequences of error.

And though it’s a sobering thought, it’s about time for some of us to turn over the reins to the next generation. But not before sharing our lessons learned. Seek out someone to mentor and share the vast body of knowledge you’ve accumulated.