The Role of Safety Advisor in Organisations

The Role of Safety Advisor in Organisations – Essential Reading

measuring safetyWhilst everyone wants to do ‘safety differently’, it is not likely that reform will come within. The paradigm of safety with its primary focus on measurement actually mitigates any hope of innovation, creativity or critical thinking. If safety is now the official ‘counting house’ it is not likely that one of the counters will be able to step beyond counting to innovating. It has got to the stage where no-one in an organization expects critical thinking or creativity to come from the mechanic of objects and checklists. The mentality of measurement is now so ingrained in the safety industry that training has become little more than social reproduction, not education (; ). The safety mindset of counting cannot encourage innovation, it can only reproduce itself. Questioning of current safety paradigms are interpreted as being anti-safety. With a binary construct (how many people do you want to kill today?) there can be only reproduction not innovation. But is this where safety people want to go? Is the role of a safety advisor any more than counting and checklisting? How can safety people break from this dead trajectory? Wouldn’t it be nice if safety advisors were looked to in organisations for wisdom, discernment, critical thinking and counsel (advice)?

Unfortunately, there is no hope offered from the risk aversion camp, zero harm offers no hope for reform or ‘safety differently’. Its very methods mitigate any change of learning and education. So, is there any hope for the safety advisor? Yes there is, but it is a bold challenge and requires a new way of acting in the role of safety advising, a role of leading in counsel not counting. Safety advising needs to be based on the following principles if it ever wants to make a ‘difference’.

Critical principles for role of safety advisor:

Safety Advisor Zero Harm Crusader
Helping Controlling
People-centred Object-centred
Open processes Closed processes
Facilitating Telling
Supporting Dictating
Organic Mechanistic
Narrative Counting
Culture Institution
Relationships Behaviourism
Learning Indoctrination

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