15th Jan, 2021 Read time 3 minutes

How to adopt Safety Differently in your organisation

With our joint focus on driver safety and Safety Differently in January, this week we take a look at how you can implement Safety Differently in your organisation, whether you are looking after a large fleet of drivers or a small team of office workers. 

Safety Differently is one of the most popular recent methodologies to come out of the safety sphere in recent years and stresses the need to look at the positives as well as the negatives when it comes to generating good safety results. Whilst it may sound good in practice, many have struggled to implement it in a structured way. As with any large organisational change, Safety Differently can be difficult to stick to in the long run. 

 

How can we do Safety Differently? 

To work out how to do Safety Differently, you must have an understanding of what you mean by safety. Whilst many organisations say they do not measure safety by the absence of incidents, they still measure their performance against the number of incidents they have. This does not focus on one of the key principles of Safety Differently, that people are the solution. 

Try to talk to workers about how work is actually being done, take a proactive approach by engaging with the system before accidents have the chance to occur. Again this may sound simple on paper, but what practical changes can be implemented? 

  • Enquire with workers what they feel the best way to complete work is
  • Introduce training on how to interact with workers 
  • Help management see health and safety as an ethical responsibility 
  • Introduce positive reinforcement for when things go well 

These are some of the basic principles that can be introduced in any organisation to increase the quality of Safety Differently implementation. Whilst these small changes will get the ball rolling, you need to take a long-term holistic approach to Safety Differently implementation; this is because it requires a wholesale change to the companies corporate culture and approach to safety. 

What are the 3 key principles of Safety Differently? 

To understand how you are implementing Safety Differently it is beneficial to have an understanding of the key principles behind the philosophy: 

  1. Health and Safety is an ethical responsibility, not a compliance task
  2. Safety is the presence of positives, not the absence of negatives 
  3. People are the solution, not the problem 

You can read more about the principles behind Safety Differently in our article and also our interview with one of the Safety Differently founders Erik Hollnagel. 

 

How do you get buy-in at the corporate level? 

Safety Differently has gained a lot of attention and many feel that it is more than just a fad, and has the potential to change things throughout the health and safety world, but you need to get that buy-in if you want the backing to make what can at times be drastic changes to the way safety is done. 

You can get this buy-in by explaining what Safety Differently can bring to organisations in a language they understand. Emphasize the potential costs and efficiency savings, focusing on how you can improve the whole organisation is a key part of Safety Differently. 

Our interview with Teresa Higgins of Barbour EHS touches on how you can get buy-in for all aspects of health and safety from a corporate board that can be set in their ways. 

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