Safety pros have responsibility for a complex and wide range of issues. There seems to be an endless list of policies, procedures, regulations, conditions, personalities, operations pressures, etc., ad infinitum, (ad nausea?). There is just way too much detail and immediacy as we try to continually improve the protection of our fellow employees. This leads to a tacit trusting of all the safety stuff other than what is demanding our immediate attention.
Safety pros are not the only ones who live in this kind of complex, ever more demanding work reality. Time and again the news reports detail alarming failures from other professions and situations where a group failed to verify what they were trusting in. I am sure that “TRUST, BUT VERIFY” is a concept most of us have heard more than once. After all, isn’t this the basis for all the auditing we are tasked with doing?
However, verifying must go beyond a paperwork process. It must go into field practice. Over the years, I have found that new eyes reviewing these policies, procedures and actual work practices make a subtle, but very real difference in proofing what we are doing in our ever changing work reality. Front-line employee teams trained and tasked with verification have covered me more than once. When trained and engaged in the protection of themselves, their co-workers and their families, these local subject matter experts add new life, professionalism and intensity to our areas of trust. These safety trust areas must truly be verified with an intensity which defeats complacency and the dangers of focusing only on the immediate and expedient.