It’s Just Candy


By Phil La Duke

The safety is effectively known safety lore, how old man (Éleuthère Irénée) du Pont was a pioneer in worker safety due to the fact he a) manufactured dynamite and b) employed family members and buddies. As much as anyone, up to an such as,  Herbert William Heinrich, Du Pont has come to symbolize safety, specifically Behavior Primarily based Safety (BBS).  I (along with numerous others, which includes OSHA) have openly criticized BBS for its failings, not the least of which is the tendency of BBS to encourage people to beneath-report injuries and for…well not working  quite effectively.

I’ll warn you, this will sound strange coming from me, but it happens to me that although many of the most devoted BBS fanatics are soft-headed, mouth-breathing, imbeciles 1 or two of them might not be that far off. Keep with me. Let’s say you are a 19th century manufacturer of dynamite, using rudimentary, pre-modern day manufacturing tactics.  Your enterprise is essentially cooking up a batch of goo that you dry into a power and package into explosive sticks, that—if you are lucky—won’t blow up ahead of you get them to the consumer. If everyone includes does not do precisely as they are supposed to the entire operation literally blows up.  This isn’t a case exactly where if someone messes up we have a near miss, or a 1st aid case, or even a single fatality, rather a person messes up and we’re scrapping chunks of uncle Pierre off a church steeple 2 miles away.  So folks are careful.  Genuine careful, the supervisors make certain absolutely everyone is careful, the managers make certain people are cautious, and the workers themselves remind each and every other to be careful. Why? Simply because in the words of Tom Waits, “It’s the identical with men as with horses and dogs, nothing at all wants to die.”

Issues are much the same, or at least they ought to be, in higher consequence industries. If a single error can result in another Chernobyl or Texas City or Deepwater Horizon then it makes sense that each and every creature with a pulse at the facility has a vested interest in producing certain absolutely nothing goes incorrect and causes an international disaster. So yeah, if you are in a one particular strike and every person within a 20 mile radius is out type of market, perhaps some sort of BBS tends to make sense.

Except most of us don’t function in these sort of industries and so our corporate cultures are a lot more tolerant of danger I employed to create seats for Basic Motors (I actually screwed for a living and came residence sore) on the assembly line. If I produced a mistake nobody a lot cared.  Positive if I developed scrap (like if I tore the fabric on a seat—which incidentally I by no means did) someone may possibly chew my butt out for ruining a $ 30 part, but everybody knew that it was just a piece of cloth and that GM could spare the $ 30 bucks).  The notion that I could screw up and get someone hurt was quite laughable, and the notion that I could screw up and kill 30 or so co-workers was beyond absurd and even in the most bizarre, science fiction scenario a zombie apocalypse was thousands of times a lot more likely that a mistake I might make in the assembly of the front seat of a Cadillac would wipe out Southwest Detroit.

And but the security pundits want us to treat constructing seats, transporting parcels, driving busses, and erecting sky scrapers with the exact same scrutiny and care as if we have been cooking 19th century dynamite.

There are cultures out there where worker’s safety matters. Not out of self-preservation but out of genuine decency (there are far a lot more out there that pretend  that they value workers because it is the appropriate thing to do, but in general that is a steaming heap of freshly squeezed bull excrement).  I’ve observed these areas and they are exceptional, but I’ve seen far much more hellish landscapes exactly where pride is an alien idea and safety is just anything management talks about.

I utilized to operate in Organizational Development, and in the course of that phase of my profession I had the pleasure of meeting and operating with some genuine screwballs. It was a great expertise that created me the person I am nowadays.  There are two incidents from these days that resonate with me (and by resonate, I imply in the true sense they echo by means of my mind at times loudly, at times barely audible they ebb and they flow, but they are usually with me.  The first is when a lady who came out of healthcare came to function with us.  She was all business but a sweet and generous lady, but the function weighed heavily on her.  Till one day the burden seemed to have been magically lifted, a buddy asked her what precipitated this transformation and she smiled softly and stated, “ I realized final night that if I make a mistake nobody is going to die.” You see, she had worked for numerous years education nurses and other clinicians in the tools and methods of medicine and surgery.   If, for example, she inadvertently left out a step, or forgot to mention a particular critical activity a patient could die.  But the perform we did was various, we had been writing supervisory capabilities training so the worst case scenario if we made a error was a crappy supervisor remained a crappy supervisor.  In reality, it wasn’t even THAT consequential.  If we made a error and left anything out, 95% of the course remained successful, so in a way the worst case situation was that a crappy supervisor may well still tremendously increase.  For all intents and purposes if we created a mistake not only would nobody be harmed, but in most circumstances most men and women wouldn’t even notice.  The second incident was connected to me second hand by a person whose pal had worked in a candy factory.  This pal of a buddy was something of a perfectionist and she believed that her training had to be 100% appropriate perfection was the only acceptable aim and it was killing her till a single day it occurred to her: “It’s only candy”.  As I have stated, I frequently think of these two scenarios and I think it applies to safety: the stronger the probability that an individual will die from even the smallest deviation from the procedure the higher the discipline to that approach should be.

I’m not saying that we must become cavalier about our jobs and not be concerned about predicting and preventing injuries, but I AM saying that we cannot live in a safety bubble. Just due to the fact du Pont (the individual, not the company—I’m not searching to get sued right here) did something and it worked does not imply that it will perform for us, or even if it will for us that it is worth the time and expense to pursue it.  I’m not defending “save enough” approaches to safety, but each and every redundant security system we place into place costs us cash. These of us who have to have a hardscrabble, knock-down drag-out fight for a $ 50 expenditure knows that it is receiving tougher and harder to justify every buy so if we are hunting to make our workplace as secure as it need to be we need to have to commit it smarter and more efficiently.  And by the way it wouldn’t kill you to commit some of it on me I function also challenging not to get paid for what I do.

So ask oneself this, am I creating dynamite or candy, am I constructing seats or teaching an individual surgery? Does this method to safety Genuinely fit my environment? Stop attempting to turn you’re organization into the dynamite factory some of us just make candy.

Phil La Duke’s Blog

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