Monday, July 21, 2014

Petting the tiger – normalizing safety dangers

For years, the Las Vegas tiger show wowed audiences as Siegfried and Roy petted the tigers.  Slowly and lethally the new normal lulled the entertainers into complacency with their truly dangerous pets.  And then one day…….


Are our level one audits delivering a similar complacency as we once again review the same paperwork, the same fire extinguishers, the same training logs, the same…..  What about changing our audits to look for:



  • Deviance in procedures actually being followed to the T

  • Critical risks being reviewed, recalibrated and reinforced

  • Actual employee knowledge being evaluated with one-on-one discussions

  • Training processes that deliver knowledge, skills and attitudes which make a difference in safety performance

  • A living, vibrant safety culture that consistently strives to engage our employees in a relentless pursuit of improvement


Unfortunately, many audit processes unwittingly serve to normalize an ever subtle slow degradation of standards which need to have progressed beyond what was good enough in years past.  This slow normalization of deviances can become like Siegfried and Roy petting a tiger that in the unobserved background is truly a dangerous, somewhat sleepy beast.  This kind of sleepy normalization of deviance is a cultural malaise that eats systems and procedures for breakfast. 


If we are to own the high ground and thereby own the planet for excellence in safety culture normalization of diligence is the answer, not normalization of deviance.  Our safety processes, communications and audits must go beyond petting the tiger of complacency. 


The Doc   

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