After spending the majority of my adult career in health and safety (I would say how long that is but then everyone would know my age 😊) I have seen a lot of changes, mostly for the better. But, to be honest, things have started to stagnate. Sure, there is always something new, the flavour of the week, the hottest trend. But it seems as though progression is few and far between.
Take the Lost Time Injury Rates in Canada over the past 20 years:
It is pretty obvious from this graph that we have reached a plateau.
So many times, as a health and safety professional, you feel like you are banging your head against a wall. Not only is safety fatigue a factor (see our last two posts), but everybody has a say in safety. Whether it is upper management trying to influence classifications of incidents so that their bonus is not affected, or front-line workers and supervisors just giving lip service to the safety program, it can be extremely frustrating. Coming up with exciting new ways to get the message across can be exhausting, while collecting paperwork just to get numbers up does not lead to confidence in safety.
What if we could actually analyze trends and benchmark against other companies? Educate senior management using numbers to show them how important leading indicators are, rather than relying only on incident rates? I know I’m not the only one who has thought about this –it comes up in conversation not only with other safety nerds but with people in upper management who are tired of the plateau and just want some other options.
Coming up with valid, standardized leading indicators that we can get even one industry to agree on is a challenge, let alone all of them getting together. But anything that is valuable takes work. As the proverb goes, necessity is the mother of invention. It may not seem like it at the moment, but innovation in safety is necessary to see any improvement. Doing the right thing at the right time is how the world changes.
We have a lot of ideas, and we will be expanding on them in future posts so stay tuned – let’s get past this plateau together!