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March 22, 2016

Do we really need “One More” safety brand?

Latest posts by Atlantic Research Team (see all)

I have just been reading an article by Kevin Jones of a “new model” of safety that the consulting firm Ernst & Young are about to launch onto the safety world. The value of this new approach, which they have termed “Plus One”, is that it apparently takes the next step after Zero Harm. So we may in fact see the death of the Zero movement and a move away from this dangerous perfectionist thinking that is likely causing more harm than not.

Now, apart from the harm that this will do to the “believers” that Zero Harm is the only goal we can have if we truly believe in safety, what is one more “Safety Brand” going to do that the others have not?

I declare up front I have a bias (but we all do don’t we?). I have developed a basic mistrust in the value of “branding” safety. 26 years ago I was involved in developing and implementing an NSCA 5 Star SMS for my employer. It wasn’t long before we were doing “5Star” stuff instead of looking to the wellbeing of people. Safety had become “5Star”! And by the way, the tenor of the language soon became, not one of inspiration but ultimately of scepticism at best, and derision and scorn at worst.

Then a few years later (for another employer) it was the DNV Safety Rating System and later NOSSA etc.

I know I wasn’t alone. Many of my friends and colleagues in the “Safety Industry” were doing likewise. We were all busy building systems that appeased the requirements of a set of “elements” and were ultimately looking to meet the requirements of relevant audits. And many of us got good at it and thought (at the time) we were doing a good job. Obviously passing the audits meant that our people were safe.

But the thing is that I don’t see that very much has changed in all that time.

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