MODERN SAFETY MANAGEMENT SKILLS
PEOPLE MAKE PERFORMANCE
Up until now, most of the focus of Safety Professionals was directed towards building a Safety Management System. However, the intended end goal of having an SMS is to improve Safety Performance.
More and more organisations are starting to figure out that simply having a bunch of procedures, manuals, reporting systems etc. is not enough to meaningfully impact their safety performance.
Like all fields of human endeavour, performance is made by people. I strongly believe that in order to actually improve Safety Performance, just having an SMS by itself is not enough.
The Safety Professional will need to develop what I call modern Safety Management Skills.
These skills fall largely into 2 parts:
Firstly, the ability and skills to understand safety at a systemic level.
Secondly, not less important, the ability to influence the organisation and other people when talking about safety.
Because most people involved in safety come from a technical background, their focus tends to be directed at technological issues,
They try to address safety issues with mechanistic solutions, even treating the SMS itself as a mechanistic system.
The assumption is that the right processes and procedures will generate the right data which will automatically lead to the right safety decisions.
Experience in industry shows that there are huge obstacles to identifying, investigating and solving safety issues, these obstacles are usually “social” not “technical” in nature. Even when the right issues and solutions are identified, it is a long hard “fight” to convince the decision makers in the organisation that there is a problem and they should act to resolve it.
Safety management needs to compete for the attention of the management team with a whole host of other organizational responsibilities and daily crises.
In order to be effective and make other people understand Safety, Soft Skills not hard technical skills will be most necessary. The good news is that these can be learned. As a matter of fact, most experienced safety professionals learn this by trial and error along the way.
A modern safety professional needs to understand this social side of safety management so that he or she can effectively gain the attention of the management team and facilitate the decision-making process around safety to ultimately improve the safety performance of the organization. To do this they should develop tools and skills that allow constructive collaboration, effective communication and safety leadership by influence rather than authority.
As a consequence, a modern curriculum for safety professionals, besides hard technical skills and knowledge, needs to include “soft” skills and knowledge to be up to date. It needs to cover a basic framework of human performance, psychology, systems thinking, social dynamics and decision making.
In addition it needs to develop skill in critical thinking and creative problem-solving, collaboration, effective written and verbal communication as well as creativity and imagination to look at problems from different angles and come up with creative win-win solutions to safety issues.
This page is a continuous work in progress and will link to relevant sources of information on the topic where relevant. I would really appreciate any comments, as I am sure that this will need significant polishing and updating, I see it more as a point of departure for constructive discussion than anything else!
Curriculum for developing Modern Safety Management Skills
Part I : Understanding safety
What is a Safety Management System?
evolution of safety management in aviation
What should the SMS do? Swatting mosquitos vs. draining swamps.
What is the role of the safety professional in the SMS?
What is the management of Safety, who manages safety?
The safety management process
Quality Management and SMS, the role of compliance or safety
Management commitment to the SMS and Safety management
What is management commitment? to what? How do you get it? How do you keep it?
Motivational factors in the organization around safety: how problem-solving turns into firefighting
Addressing the WIFM’s: how to make the SMS relevant to individual managers
Understanding how SMS can be perceived as a threat by managers
The importance of constructive collaboration and achieving trusted advisor status as a safety professional.
SMS and bureaucracy
Understanding your accident model:
Implications of complex socio-technical systems on safety and the limitations of our paradigms.
Paradigms that shape our safety views about accident causation
The Newtonian-Cartesian worldview and accident causation
Taylor’s scientific management still shapes our assumptions and interventions
The evolution of accident causation theory
Chain of events
The triangle Heinrich made up, how it can lead to false expectations about accident causations
Reason’s Swiss cheese and how it falls short
Complex Sociotechnical Systems: implications
Social context of safety and safety failure
The problem with trying to find root cause
How ideas of justice and fairness impact corrective actions in our organization.
Motivation paradigms : Stick & Carrot v. Intrinsic motivation ( Self-determination theory)
New ways of looking at safety
Organizational drift: why Murphy is wrong.
Safety I & ll : looking for failure vs. identifying success
Systems theory: Building a systemic view of safety
Safety goals and objectives
Benefits of having goals
Problems with the wrong kind of goals
perverse incentives that hurt safety performance
Setting productive goals and objectives
What humans are and are not good at
Human Performance influencing factors
Communication, processing information,
Understanding normal work
the command and control illusion: Tayloristic view of work
Work as imagined vs. work as done : understanding practical drift and the messy details of real work
Understanding unsafe acts
Understanding “Human Error” the old view and the new view
Problems with the old view, simple explanations for complex systems
Challenges for the “new view”
Violations and non-compliance
Distinction between errors and violations
Reasons for violations
New view: Human error as the start of the investigation not the end
Local rationality vs Monday morning quarterbacking
Observation of normal work
Shop floor walkabouts
Reconnecting management with sharp-enders
Improving the reporting culture: getting useful reports
Use of FOQA/ FDM programs
Data rich – information poor: potential for data overload
How to transform safety data into actionable intelligence:
Defining the right problem
asking the right questions
Statistical analysis of data
Different types of investigations: accidents, occurrences, pro-active investigations
How to investigate:
Understanding our own biases as investigators
Critical thinking: The ability to ask really good questions and defining the right problem
Why? Why? Why? Why? WHY?
Applying 10 principles of applying systems thinking to human error
How to effectively interview, developing active listening skills
Dealing with difficult situations
Data gathering during the investigation
Converting investigation data into actionable intelligence
Effective recommendations for systemic Error management
cognitive limitations of our sometimes irrational mind,
avoiding wishful thinking and complacency
Risk appetite, do we know what level of risk we are exposed to?
Risk avoidance vs. production
The dynamic nature of risk, risk in context
Organizational drift, impact on risk
Problems of subjective assessments
Risk assessment Barrier models
Documenting and ranking risk: Risk registers
Management of change
Risk of change in the operation
How to evaluate risk of change
building a safety case
What is the Purpose of Risk Management ?
the problem with applying linear accident causation models like Swiss cheese to risk management
What Risk do we try to manage ?
How can we manage risk in the operation?
Managing risk at the design stage.
How risk mitigation can locally reduce but increase Risk globally.
Effective risk mitigation
Maintaining a dynamic view of risk
Part II Making other people understand safety ISSUEs and take action
Being conscious about your personal purpose in the organization
Emotional intelligence: dealing with conflict, anger and frustration
willingness to be a dissenting voice, staying non-conformist
developing a vigilant mindset - avoiding complacency
identifying and overcoming your own mental biases
increasing your creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills
How to make friends and influence people to take safety enhancing action!
dealing with conflict and frustration
The science of persuasion, influence and negotiation
Becoming a Trusted Advisor
Coaching your organization to better safety performance
Overcoming mental blocks to organizational change
Becoming a leader in safety
Creating consciousness, responsibility and action
Following up on action plans
How to effectively use Goals and Objectives to drive continuous improvement
The Kaizen mindset
Lessons from High Performance teams
Safety Culture: Know your organization
What is culture? Different views on culture
Can we change it? How?
What are we trying to achieve with safety communication?
We are all trying to move people - selling safety
Understanding intrinsic motivation : designing more effective safety messages with self-determination theory
Inspiring vs. manipulating people: “Start with why”
Crafting more effective safety messages:
Credibility of safety messages.
Avoiding information overload: rule of 3’s
Paradigms for engaging safety communication. Be careful saying "Be careful! "
Addressing local rationality and goal conflicts . Creating a systemic view of safety.
stages of getting from data to action, stages of safety communication
Make your safety messages stick, using stories to keep people engaged
Tips for better communicating in written form
Tips for effective verbal presentation
Feedback : the most important and least understood tool in safety management
What is feedback supposed to do?
Forms of feedback
giving vs Receiving feedback
How to become a catalyst for better communication: facilitation skills
Effective safety training in your organization
Using the new forms of media to your advantage
What purpose does the safety meeting have ?
Designing the meeting for its purpose!
The safety decision-making process
Who do you need to attend your meeting ?
How to prepare for an effective meeting!
How to run a safety meeting when you are not the highest ranking in the room
How to stop people falling asleep !
Dynamics of the safety meeting :
avoiding unnecessary conflicts,
How to get decisions.
How to build realistic action plans that convert safely decisions into concrete action
Difference with Quality audits: what are you looking for?
How to plan a safety audit
Different approaches to safety audits
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