Safety in Australia “What a circus, it really is embarrassing and sends a message, a message that we aren’t serious about improving safety…. This is how a friend and colleague described the state of play in safety this morning. I agree. It seems that the circus has resulted in the emergence of a new hierarchy of control. This is what “leadership” looks today in Australia in safety management.
The new hierarchy of control:
1. Use the sand.
3. Deploy the inspectors.
4. If you are really desperate after trying these good solutions then, and only if you are at your wits end, use design initiatives previously known as “elimination”, “substitution” and “engineering”.
“The sand.” Put your head in the sand and pretend a problem does not exist. This technique is one of the top tools used in cultural leadership programs. It manifests itself in targets for LTIF (lost time injury frequency rate) which results in things being hidden. “Use the sand”. Asbestos in the NBN communication ducts is another good example. Let’s put the new cables through those existing ducts. But won’t that abrade the ducts? All the asbestos ducts in Australia? Don’t worry about that now. “Use the sand”. Problem solved.
“The card.” Devise a protective paper card that gives a worker special strength against a disease or danger. This idea has been picked up from Masterchef and other reality TV games where a special pin or card conveys immunity. It works there and should work for real as this is not called “reality” TV for nothing. The NBN is using “the card” to protect workers from asbestos diseases. We can only wonder why we all don’t get one.
“The inspectors”. If “the sand” does not work and for some reason the powerful “card” is unreasonably questioned, deploy extra people to watch what is happening. The NBN has employed the “inspectors”. This curiously increases the exposure rather than decreasing it but if you are worried about that pesky detail then return to step 1. and use “the sand” which should relieve your concern or give the inspectors “the card” which will protect them too.
James Reason would be so proud. Three layers of cheese!