Our safety programs, if they exist at all, tend to focus on participation and completion, rather than transformation. To be fair, the chief obstacle stems from a preponderance of wrong assumptions and dangerous misconceptions. Identifying some of these (see below) may help us as safety professionals become more effective in our mission.
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.
From time to time when I am introduced in public, I get questioned about the three initials that follow my name—PhD. People in my community seldom know I have such a degree. The few that do know sometimes give me their humorous definitions of what the three letters mean to them: Piled Higher and Deeper, Push Harder Dummy, Post Hole Digger and the like. You may very well have some others to add to this humorous list.
E. Scott Geller, Ph.D., Alumni Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech, and senior partner, Safety Performance Solutions, gave a presentation at ASSE’s Safety 2014 conference in Orlando this past June emphasizing the need for the safety profession to embrace these paradigm shifts to achieve an injury-free culture:
Since childhood, we have all been raised by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many would cite this ethical code as one of their aspirations by which to live, both personally and professionally.
I am the managing director of Australia's largest safety solutions organisation, the Industrial Foundation for Accident Prevention (IFAP). We are a wholly self-funded, not for profit organisation which provides services across the broad spectrum of safety-related matters ranging from low level induction style training courses to whole-of-organisation safety culture change programmes.
I quite often hear the lament from the safety fraternity that "my manager doesn't understand me ...".To this I reply - when one understands the myriad of demands placed upon C-level personnel, why should it be incumbent upon them to "learn the language of safety (environment, labour laws, accounting, IP, IT, etc). Rather, if safety pro's are so keen to have their voices heard, the responsibility should be on them to learn the language of management, and place their commentary in the management context.
As people were gathering for the meeting, Ami, the safety professional who had brought me to their site, thanked one of the employees for being at the evening session. The employee replied, “Management ‘strongly recommended’ we attend.” By the tone of his voice, he made it clear his leadership was doing all but making attendance at the meeting mandatory.