The Bandwidth of Safety Management
A common mistake organizations and safety professionals often make is trying to do too much at once.
Whilst it might seem logical that when you work ‘harder’ and try to implement more safety related activities, there should be a resulting increase in levels of organisational safety awareness and thus improvements in safety performance – actually though, this is rarely the case.
Overloading the workforce with too much at the same time results in overload, and this will block internalisation of important safety principles and practices. As an analogy, trying to eat the elephant in one bite chokes the eater and aggravates the elephant.
The span of human attention, like the internet, has limited bandwidth. The human brain can only handle a certain amount of information at once. More is not better, nor is it even more – it is simply lost. When organizations and safety professionals focus on specific and well prioritised important safety targets, the human attention machine works well. New precautions are understood and internalised. As the new safety habits and thinking progress – new targets can be added.
In focusing your efforts, your organization will see the elephant (poor safety performance) disappearing one bite at a time and the slow and noticeable improvement will motivate further progress.
This approach requires a disciplined and clear-thinking mindset and for the implementers to have the realisation that more is not always better and that slower can actually be faster. Keeping your safety efforts within the proper ‘bandwidth’ of the human brain is ultimately the best, and fastest path to safety excellence.