Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When Safety Systems are unsafe

I was looking at a press release by a large mining company that, rightly, expressed frustration and disappointment that they had not been able to meet their target of 0 deaths in the operation. All mining companies I know of are certainly aiming for this target, but very few can do it. This is true even though there are very strict processes to follow to continually improve safety outcomes.

So what gives? I believe that the focus on safety needs to be reassessed. Yes, focus on safety, but look at it as one part of a whole. If a company designs a safety system that does not also help improve production outcomes, then the first time the company puts on the squeeze for higher production, then people will compromise on safety. And they will do it on purpose and with a pretty clear understanding of the possible outcomes, and how likely they are to happen. The chances of this behaviour happening is increased if a persons pay packet is liked to production.

So here is my take - design systems that deliver better safety AND production outcomes.

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