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Safety Culture: The Pathway to Peace

Post Author Rob Loose
Aug 23, 2018 1:25:35 PM
Workforce Insights
Header_ six safety culture tenet

 “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
Dalai Lama XIV

According to my wife, practicing yoga brings peace.  When I attempt yoga, however, I only feel extreme pain -- no peace.

Truth be told, deep down inside, I am a serious yoga wannabe and quite envious of the “peace” my wife achieves practicing.  Though yoga doesn’t get me to a peaceful place (yet), I totally respect and appreciate the principles yoga teaches and easily perceive how a person could acquire peace in practicing.

Incidentally for me, inner peace is that elusive place of safety serenity where natural behavior meets risk control nirvana.  That sort of peace is found by journeying on a pathway paved with resplendent safety practices, following the direction of dynamic, risk-averse leaders, aided by the support of wide-spread employee involvement, clearly stated EHS policy and eloquently delivered safety training.  Just thinking about these things makes me feel serene.  That tranquil feeling is a strong safety culture that brings me peace even without assuming plank position!       

Okay folks breathe deeply and relax.  Inhale and exhale…  Yeah right, not while stretching my hamstrings!  On that note, on a recent plant visit, I observed several employees either not wearing PPE or wearing it improperly despite signs everywhere directing otherwise.  No doubt, from what I observed, personnel working in this plant didn’t care about PPE rules.  Management, I take it, didn’t care either.  As far as leadership, EHS policies and employee engagement goes, this organization was experiencing safety culture conflict.  Disregarding safety rules was just one of many signs this organization’s safety culture was disturbed.

To whom could they look for direction to strengthen their safety culture and find peace?  In solemn meditation I pondered what could be done.  They needed the wisdom of a safety culture guru!         

Luckily Robert Pater, a well-respected safety culture guru, has offered loads of serenity-heavy wisdom.  Better yet, you don’t need to climb a snowy mountain in the Himalayas for his wise council.  He’s well-published!

In an article in September 2015’s ASSE’s Professional Safety magazine titled, “Advanced Culture Change Leadership,”  Mr. Pater encourages organizations to follow the pathway to safety culture with the following six safety culture tenets.  He instructs:    

1)  Organizational leaders should initiate and guide safety culture direction and evolution.

2)  Real safety culture must be unique and specifically tailored to each organization.

3)  Avoid implementing tools, methods and programs that promise too-good-to-be-true results.

4)  Ensure the whole team is on the same pathway to safety culture excellence.

5)  Be patient and realistic about progress, as improvement may take time.

6)  Pursue grassroots change with participation from the bottom to the top.         

Namaste Mr. Pater! With that wise advice, I feel the tension of workplace danger replaced by the peace and calm of excellent safety culture.

No doubt, an organization that follows this council will be less disturbed by employee injuries.  Speaking of injuries, I think I’m about to fall on my noggin with this downward dog pose.  Checking out now… 

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