Groundhog Safety Day
Neuroscience theory tells us that our brains are organised to reflect everything we know in our environment, in the form of knowledge and experience. Our brains are equal to our past environment, a record of what we’ve done on a day-to-day basis. We think and feel automatically in familiar ways derived from past experiences.
Our internal thoughts and feelings exactly match or external habits and every day we adopt the same processes and tasks and produce the same results.
We continue to remain cast in our past experiences by following the same old rituals mostly comprised of automatic behaviours.
We wake up on the same side of the bed, take a shower and get dressed the same way each day. We tend to eat the same breakfast, drive to work using the same route and adopt the same procedures that we believe have served us well over the last 40 years.
Our objective safety world has become coloured by the perceptions of our subjective minds to create our reality that conforms to bureaucracy. We have indoctrinated people to form habits enslaved by our day-to-day procedures (risk assessments, JSA’s, HAZOPS etc).
Why then do we expect our safety performance to improve, when we think and act in the same manner?
Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, we have created a loop that has stifled innovation and led us into mediocrity.
Our current Newtonian Safety Systems try and predict cause and effect by second guessing the likelihood and severity of risk based on past experiences we can’t accurately remember or calculate.
And, while we continue to adopt these farcical methods our routines, our thoughts and feelings will perpetuate the same outcomes like a hamster on a wheel beating the same path.
By adopting the same old stuff day after day, it’s no wonder are KPI’s have plateaued.
As safety professional’s our biggest hurdle to overcome is that we always want to control a future event by trying to re-create how it occurred in the past. We focus all our efforts on objective risks rather than behavioural acts. We keep all our attention on 0.00001 % of reality that is physical when in fact 99.99999 % of matter is potential.
If you look closely at the new ISO 450001, all you get is a regurgitation of the old ISO 18001, with just a series of high level objectives minus any context or new systems!
Lead indicators should not be a measure of the past (a % of this against that), but an account of new innovations that raise the bar above and beyond the status quo and have a knock-on effect on lag indicators (KPI’s).
To improve we need to make our thoughts and feelings coherent in-line with a fresh perspective. We need to try something new and focus our aspirations beyond compliance through passionate emotional engagement and inquiry.
We need to get the workers actively engaged with safety rather than pushing new procedures and ideas at them without any involvement.
To improve we need to fundamentally change the way we think act a feel about health and safety. To move from a Newtonian Safety to Quantum Safety Performance (next blog).
“We need to boldly go where no safety man has gone before”.
By Mark Taylor