The Journey of Safety Excellence
Updated: Jul 19
In the realm of safety, complacency can be dangerous. Believing that we have achieved excellence in safety can hinder our ability to improve and address potential risks. The language we use, the thoughts we harbor, and how they align with our behaviors play a crucial role in our journey toward safety excellence. In this article, we will explore the importance of maintaining a mindset of positive discontent, embracing continuous improvement, and acknowledging that there will always be room for progress in the realm of safety.
Evolution of Safety Practices
Looking back at the early 1900s, construction fatalities on sky-scrapers were alarmingly high, with estimates of one death per floor built. However, over time, industries have recognized the need for change and have made significant strides in improving safety practices. What was acceptable a decade ago may no longer meet the evolving standards of safety. It is essential to remain vigilant and adaptable to ensure ongoing improvement.
A Transformational Journey: Transforming safety culture requires a shift in deeply ingrained beliefs and behaviors. While it may take time to change established practices, it is crucial to recognize that culture change is not a mere program or event—it is a transformative process. Organizations must commit to creating an environment that fosters continuous improvement and encourages employees to challenge existing practices in pursuit of better safety outcomes.
Moving Beyond "Best Practices"
Some organizations have started using the term "Better Practice" instead of "Best Practice." This shift acknowledges the potential pitfalls of adopting a single best practice and falling into the trap of confirmation bias. When we believe we have found the ultimate solution, we may overlook opportunities for improvement. Embracing a mindset of positive discontent encourages us to continuously seek better ways and challenge the status quo.
The Power of Positive Discontent
Positive discontent, as described by author Mark Sanborn, combines gratitude with a drive for improvement. It allows us to appreciate our achievements without becoming complacent. We can celebrate our successes while maintaining a sense of restlessness, always striving for continuous enhancement in our safety efforts.
Balancing Idealism and Realism
As safety professionals, we aim for zero injuries, but we must navigate the fine line between idealism and realism. Effective safety efforts require a balance of intelligent adaptation and deliberate analysis. We should continuously evaluate and refine our approaches, searching for the next better way to improve safety. By embracing this mindset, we can dream big without engaging in futile endeavors.
A Never-Ending Journey
Safety excellence is not a destination but an ongoing journey. We should celebrate our successes and acknowledge the progress we have made. As our safety culture evolves, we must remain aware that risks can never be entirely eliminated in any industrial setting. Moreover, we should recognize that our employees are most vulnerable outside of the workplace. By maintaining a healthy sense of vulnerability and pride in our accomplishments, we can strive for continuous progress and remain open to the possibility of a better way.
The pursuit of safety excellence requires a mindset of positive discontent, a commitment to continuous improvement, and a recognition that our journey never truly ends. By embracing this mindset, organizations can foster a culture that values ongoing progress, adapts intelligently, and empowers individuals to contribute to a safer working environment. Remember, we can celebrate our achievements while always striving for a better, safer future.