Monday, March 30, 2015

Change – Safety stagnation

There are sayings in many languages about the difficulty of changing our long established habits and ways of doing things.  In English, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” In French, “Ce n’est pas à un vieux singe qu’ on apprend à faire la grimace.”  (You can’t teach an old monkey how to pull a funny face).  In Spanish, “El loro viejo no aprende a hablar.”  (An old parrot can’t learn to speak).  No matter where we live, there seems to be a significant physical and psychological inertia that inhibits we humans from doing anything other than what we somehow have learned to do since we were raised from childhood.  This leads to another English expression you all have heard, “The classic definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” 

As safety professionals, if we followed this cultural inevitability malaise we would still be back in the circa 1911 start of our profession re-experiencing the likes of the Triangle Shirt Waist factory multiple fatality tragedy.  The focus of the safety profession must be a continual improvement that relentlessly ekes our way to a safety culture of correct.  We work to eliminate: fatalities, then lost time injuries, then medical incidents, then personal risk evaluation failures, then…..

My Papa used to quote a famous author whose scenario had a mother asking her sons, “What don’t you have to do? You don’t have to solve all the world’s problems.  Just a few, there are plenty to go around.  What do you have to do?  Always do the right thing.”  Let us continue to resist the insanity of safety (and personal) status quo and keep engaging in doing the right things.

The Doc

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