Monday, April 6, 2015

Heraclitus – Tomorrow’s safety challenges

Recently, I was working with a mining organization that spiked employee interest as a way to improve the required compliance training that seems endless and repetitive.  They use safety trivia, such as a football game analogy where each team gets a few yards for answering safety questions over the course of the class.  The first team to 100 yards receives bragging rights and a token prize.  To add a challenge, each team can have one “Hail Mary” pass worth 35 yards if they get the correct answer to a difficult question.  They asked me the question, “Where and when were explosives first used in mining?”  Hungary in 1627 was a pass out of my reach, but I stumped them and they dropped my pass with “What do the initials “H. W.” stand for in H.W. Heinrich’s name?”* 

Or how about “What advice did the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus say that can guide us in safety?”  Heraclitus is known for (ok known obscurely for) “You can’t step twice in the same river.”  This raised a big “Huh?” out of the crowd and we got down to being serious about his meaning that ‘everything changes’ so we must be engaged in improving what we do to reduce injuries.  The same ol’ same ol’ just isn’t effective in the long run.  If there is to be improvement, we will be forced to balance today’s reality with tomorrow’s culture. 

Safety is serious work for this particular customer as their Recordable Injury Frequency (RIF) of 0.45 in a very dangerous industry is still not good enough for them to stop considering tomorrow’s safety culture reality challenges. The mining industry is well known for potential dangers and it crosses many global cultures, which is why the mining industry is always on the lookout for how to improve and overcome the challenges of its safety “river.” How are you doing considering the new rivers your safety reality will require you to step into in the present and in the future? 

*Herbert Wagner

The Doc     

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