We often hear about how difficult it is for Safety professionals to convince management and sensitize them on the need to drive safety from the “top”. There is also no dearth of advice that Safety professionals get on the need to “talk the language of the business” and improve their communication skills to make the business case and “sell” safety to the top management.
On the other hand, we also hear Production / Operations personnel lamenting how Safety professionals are so distant from reality and have no clue how to get things done.
A social experimentOver the past 6 months or so, I have been asking my friends and business associates to participate in a social experiment. I asked them to provide their most likely response to a simple hypothetical scenario – with an up-front clarification that there are no right / wrong answers.
It is late in the night and you are driving back home and in a bit of a rush to attend to a medical emergency at home. You just reach a cross roads and blame your luck as the signal just turns Red. You know that it will take at least 3-4 minutes before the signal turns in your favour. You have clear visibility of all roads and are absolutely certain that there is no vehicle anywhere in sight. You are also aware that there are no traffic cameras keeping an eye on you. What would you do:
My hypothesis is that in most cases, safety managers tend to take a safe approach (pun intended) and opt to really stay away from taking any risks. This approach of course irks the business or operations professional who sees the safety professional as anti-business.
Do we have a solution?
Clearly, a blog like this is not aimed at providing a solution to what is an existential challenge in industry but here are my quick thoughts on what we could possibly do differently:
“Everyone takes some degree of risk with what they do. However, it is important to know the difference between taking risk and being reckless”.
My take: It takes a knowledgeable Safety Professional to know that difference. Keep Learning!
I welcome your perspectives on this topic.