Safety Culture remains an alchemy Reply

Safety Culture is an issue that has turned up in disaster investigations, training programs intended to change attitudes, benchmarking exercises and reviews into workplace fatalities, overpriced and evangelical corporate products and as pitiful excuses for mistakes.  Yet it still remains poorly understood and poorly defined as shown by a recent article in ISHN magazine.

The magazine asked “safety and health exerts” on their opinions about Safety Culture.  Below is a sample of the comments:

Safety culture has turned into a marketing ploy.

Safety culture is part of common language and pops up all over the place – and as in beauty it’s in the eye of the beholder.

…the term [safety culture] has been begun to diffuse into meaninglessness like so many  good-ideas-turned-fad before.

In safety if we focus on/measure what we don’t want to occur – injuries – there are no lasting solutions.  This is just another culture built on a foundation of sand.

[safety culture is] a delightful addition to the jug-headed lexicon of corporate nonspeak, ranking right up there with “right sizing” “getting to done” and the cherished “orientated.”

Safety culture is like “common sense.” Both are overused and neither exists.

This variety of opinions could indicate that safety remains an immature concept except that it has already existed for decades.  It may also show that the safety profession has little idea about the core elements of its own existence.  It is likely to reflect the major, and often ignored, effect that marketing has had on safety.

What it definitely means is that Safety Culture is not an end product, a destination.  Safety Culture is a business practice and always has been.

Kevin Jones

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