What does the best safety person look like? For too long our organisations have thought safety advisors are highly knowledgeable about safety laws, procedures and rules. The expert on hazards and mitigations. Proficient incident investigator with ready made solutions. Walk about pointing out where the organisation does and doesn’t comply. People make good or bad decisions and it is all about knowledge, training and understanding consequences of your actions. Typically the person feels 100% responsible to keep everyone safe. The comply or die safety cop.
Today is a different story. The best looks more like a highly skilled coach with behavioural economics understanding of human decisions and touch applied neuroscience. As we have become more efficient at tackling hazards, safety advisors need to move from the hazard towards the people side of the equation (check out this blog) and know more then ever before about people. Understanding social thinking and developing the safety leaders in the group.
- Look for the following in a safety advisor as the best will appear armed with this knowledge:
- They will talk to you about Tony Robbins and the six human needs, linking these elements into any safety program they are involved with.
- Seek out opportunities to prime the group and know what cognitive dissonance is.
- Discuss data and be wary of the heuristics and confirmation bias.
- Know what Daniel Kahneman won and the 4 parts to the habit cycle.
- Look forlorn and shake their head when performance management for a safety breach being planned
- Above all they understand people and why they do what they do, using it to keep people safe.
So where are these safety avators….the future of safety? Well they are not part of the last stop before retirement gig or the stickler for detail and rules! Firstly, they are likely to be young. Without the biases and collective experiences of poor science and wrong judgements. They are from a field of learning and knowledge that seeks to understand people not hazards. First hand interaction with people, applying techniques which adjust or leverage what is known about peoples behaviour. Where do such people exist you ask? Marketing. Yep Marketing. Think about it for a second. Marketing specifically build programs around why people do what they do. They know we are not rational, logical beings, considering all the information and then making a decision. Too be blunt most of us don’t make decisions, we just think we do. The future safety advisor will tell you which system you are operating in most of the time.
And if you are in need of a safety advisor then go to marketing and get someone preferably young, leading a group of people and excited about what how they can help people. Pick one that has knowledge of Facebook, twitter, Instagram et al and understands the power of social connections.
Good luck in your journey and be ready for what the not too distant future holds. Less about the hazards and more about the people.