Moving to the right side of safety

Moving to the right side of safety

Nuala Gage, senior consultant at Intertek Consulting & Training, shares some insight for moving to what she calls “the right side of safety”

Trends and fashions come and go but the core idea of keeping people safe does not change. The methods, tools and gadgets may change but the core remains stable. How do we reduce the likelihood of harm? How do we move to choices on the right side of safety because we believe they are right, not because someone may be watching, or because of the latest trend that will only last until we get bored? How do we move to the right side of consistency? How do we develop and implement long-term solutions?

We are all at different stages on the path from high risk to the right side of safety and our journey has many influences; individual risk tolerance, not knowing, experiences and influences that have guided us to where we now are.

Understanding the risk tolerance of others is a key factor in building rapport

Everyone is on a journey to the right side of safety. At the beginning of that journey we all have a slight “superman complex”. The safety conversations then become critical in order to not alienate or kill ideas and enthusiasm for getting the job done. It is not just about the message; it is about how you put the message across. Are you genuinely interested in people and their safety?

Sharing and storytelling have great impact on the behaviour and choices others make

Share detail about experiences such as the camaraderie before the incident, the desire to get the job done quickly, the feeling of invincibility; the slow motion silence that follows, the feeling of your chest crushing because you cannot breathe from shock and fear, the smells and sounds that start coming through, the panic and feeling that you’ve failed and, worst of all, living with it for the rest of your life. The more you share, the greater the learning that takes place.

Showing an interest in the safety choices of others builds credibility and trust

It is not about telling others what to do, but rather influencing their choices to the right side of safety. Listen to ideas; explore; check how they relate to the standard operating procedures, policies and safety guidelines; acknowledge and support ideas and improvements.

Use available resources when necessary

Ask another colleague to have a safety conversation with someone; sometimes interventions require specific training. Care enough to find the best influences.

Remember, it is a process

When we care enough to make contact and share our experiences we often expect instant results. It can be frustrating when colleagues seem hard headed and don’t appear to see the right side of safety. That is when you have to remember to not give up. Eventually they come back to making their own choices on the right side of safety. That doesn’t mean allowing unsafe behaviour. As a leader you need to keep everyone walking on the right side of safety.

Whether we are a leader or team-mate, we have all been given the invitation to help someone move along the path to believing in making safer choices. Each of us has the opportunity to sustainably influence long-term impacts that aren’t a fad or just the current trend. Are you going to accept the invitation? 

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