21 Safety Engagement Tools & Techniques

by Mark Taylor on January 1, 2016

in Safety Procedures

unanswered questions - brainstorming conceptThanks to Mark Taylor from www.safetymatters.co.nz for sending these in. I haven’t heard of a few of these but others I have found useful. We still need to realise that no tool is perfect or free of subjectivity and bias see:  When the Safety Tool Becomes the Method.

Have you used any of these or are there others you could recommend – tell us your tips, successes and pitfalls.

21 Safety Engagement Tools & Techniques

  1. Acorn Test – a test to check on a safety mission statement to determine if it is well-defined
  2. Affinity Diagram – organises a large of hazards or near misses into their natural relationships

  3. Benefits and Barriers Exercise – helps individuals see benefits of a proposed change

  4. Round Robin Brainstorming – Use this when dominant members stifle other people’s ideas

  5. Double Reversal Brainstorming – Use this when people are running out of ideas

  6. Starbursting – Identifies issues that must be considered before implementing ideas

  7. Charettes – When a large group must develop ideas about various facets of a problem

  8. Brainwriting – A nonverbal form of brainstorming

  9. Hazard Concentration Diagram – Plots physical locations of hazards and links common traits

  10. Contingency Diagram – Uses brainstorming and fault finding to identify how incidents occur

  11. Continuum of Goals – Shows groups how to devise a general or specific mission statement

  12. Battelle Filtering – Prioritises a list of health and safety options

  13. Design for Safety – a method for carefully planning safety checks on a process

  14. Effective-Achievable Chart – a two dimensional chart for prioritising safety choices

  15. Failure Modes and Effects Analysis – a step by step for identifying failures in a safety process

  16. 5W2H – a method for asking questions about a safety process or problem

  17. Safety Importance-Performance Analysis – studies people’s perceptions of safety goals

  18. Is-Is Not Matrix – guides the search for the causes to a safety problem

  19. PMI – structures a discussion to identify the pluses, minuses and interesting points on a idea

  20. Storyboard – a visual display of safety thoughts

  21. Why-Why Diagram – identifies the root causes of a problem


Happy New Year

Best Regards,

Mark Taylor – Director

Safety Matters (NZ) Ltd



Mark Taylor

Latest posts by Mark Taylor (see all)

Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor is a key note speaker and trainer who has spent the majority of his career educating and helping people to take health and safety seriously. Over a period of twenty years he has worked across a broad spectrum of industries around the world and has developed a number of innovative safety tools that are now common in many workplaces. Mark continues to see things differently and push the boundaries in safety management beyond traditional systems and approaches, which he feels are dated and limited.
  • All tools and strategies have conscious and unconscious assumptions that rarely disclose their intended or unintended bias. What is most important in examining the value of any tool is what the tool itself assumes about: people, purpose, human value, ethics, learning and a host of anthropological issues. When one considers the assumptions of the eight prominent schools of safety (Appendix 1. https://safetyrisk.net/understanding-the-social-psychology-of-risk-and-safety/) then the trajectory of each tool becomes important. For example, the idea that diversity as a value is good in and of itself assumes that either people can discern differences within diversity or that confusion is a good idea. Any tool is not a good tool.

    Unfortunately, many of the tools available to people in the safety industry are mechanistic and technicist in nature and shape the thinking of the human into a dumb down trajectory. Whilst it’s good to have a checklist, it’s even more important to know the purpose of the checklist and the bias of the checklist. The paradox is, some checklists and tools disable to capability of a person to think and this is the nature of dumb down safety. So, this is not some simplistic put down of these tools but rather a challenge for safety people to remain vigilant in their thinking. This site more than anything attracts people who want templates and don’t get me wrong templates can save time and effort but they are not neutral and were developed by some other person for a purpose, that template has a trajectory and a purpose.

    • Thanks Rob – yes its true, this site started as a depository of safety slogans, templates and checklists and the reality is that it owes much of it’s past and present success to that. However, what pleases me most, is that thanks to you and the other contributors we also now have the largest audience, of any other site, of people who have moved beyond that – many of those people, probably already feeling the cognitive dissonance that traditional safety creates, came here originally looking for those plug n play tools but we have opened their eyes and minds to a whole new way of thinking about safety and risk and we will continue to do that. I’m going to steal some of your words and beef up the ‘disclaimers’ I have on some of those template pages.

  • Coastal Boot LLC

    Worker safety is definitely important and these are great tools and techniques to help achieve that! We agree with Mark that there needs to be a new safety system in place in order to ensure that safety rules are actually followed. Too many companies get away with conveniently “overlooking” the safety of their employees and in the end we still have injuries and even death at the workplace. Just this week 2 guys working on elevators were crushed to death, one in a cruse ship and one in a building. When will employers get that safety is important even if it takes time and effort.

    • Is compliance assurance a ‘new’system? – are there better ways than telling people how they must do things? What do they learn from that and how do they cope when you arent around?

  • Most of these tools come from a book called the “Quality Toolbox” by Nancy R. Teague who has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Rice University. The tools were devised for quality improvement processes, but I have adopted them as an alternative to common place safety systems that have become polarized by bureaucracy and haven’t changed much in the last 40 years.
    Like the quality of food, safety isn’t improved based on the number of times you repeat the recipe but the different types of ingredients you add to the mixture. We won’t improve the future of safety simply by doing better at what we’ve done in the past, we need to build a safety system comfortable with decentralization that becomes the hallmark for creativity and reducing accidents in the twenty-first century.
    We need to be tight in the execution of programs but loose in adapting the process. We taken the path of least resistance to optimize short term gains at the expense of our ability to prepare for the future.
    Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel on his own but as the head of a thirteen strong team and in safety the sharing of ideas and collaboration with other safety individuals will be essential.
    The biggest problem with our profession are the pig headed, egotistical people who find it all to easy to put down or suppress people’s ideas based on their own views or opinions. Like Zero harm, does it really matter if it’s achievable or not, as long as its having the desired effect?

    • Just wanted to apologise for my last remark, it wasn’t called for, sorry

      • Dave Collins

        I appreciate your response Mate – I wouldn’t worry about the last remark – I and I think many others would agree – except with maybe the zero bit 🙂

  • Some of these are impossible to find via Google (design for safety and battelle filtering to name two) any chance we can get some links?

    • Dave Collins

      Thanks for asking Scott – I was reluctant to show my ignorance 🙂 I’ll ask Mark if he can provide more info.

      • Dave, none of this mesns much unless one knows the assumptions of each test/diagnistic. If reductionistic will be of little value.

Previous post:

Next post: