My employer is undertaking a major reformation in respect of 'safety culture'. Its an exciting time to be involved with an initiative that will positively influence over 1400 people.

Part of this is the structured surveying of our staff. We just had the implementation guys from 'Global Safety Index' putting as through the system setup. Overall I see this as being of huge benefit.

What struck me though is the 'sales pitch' which presents the GSI as an impartial, objective benchmark. This may be true of the questions.It is not, however, true of those answering them.

The survey is conducted in a live environment where innumerable factors come into play in respect of survey responses. Had a recent toolbox talk? Had a major incident? Just rolled out a major safety initiative? Have managers coached staff? The variables are unending.

Im not positing this makes the survey less useful. makes We need to recognize though that the staff completing the survey are subjectively influenced by factors around them.

These factors have the potential to skew results and need to be considered when analyzing results. Taking account of these can be insightful in and of itself.

Further, in comparing your results to other companies on the index you can't possibly be aware of the subjective factors influencing their results. Your comparison is indeed not objective.

Having said that the survey will be insightful and I look forward to learning about how our staff see safety in our organization. My subjective analysis of their subjective responses to objective questions will be quite informative.

Don't Forget


This time of year, as part of the holiday season, many of us take time to decorate our homes - both inside and out. While the hazards associated with this are generally well known it's worth noting some of the more obscure safety issues that people should remain aware of:
  • Fire hazards in relation to Xmas lights
  • Fall hazards while putting up decorations
  • trip hazards while lights and decorations are the ground - ie before you put them up
  • Low hanging items like baubles on trees which could be a choke hazard for small children

The New 'Normal' for Safety Managers and Clients

Is your calendar full of client meetings all asking for clarification of WHS issues? According to my anecdotal evidence, if your employer is a contractor in a service provider role, get used to it. While the changes to the WHS Act and ‘Harmonisation’ have prompted an ongoing flurry of activity for all safety professionals, I and my close colleagues employed in sub-contract service provision organisations seem to be feeling the heat more than most. In fact, I’d describe the review of safety practices by our client organisations as constant and building momentum.

What’s driving this change? Well, the changes to the Act have forced a re-evaluating of both new and long term business relationships. Many clients are redefining what ‘trust’ means in respect of sub-contractor safety. Clients are becoming much more interested in the thought behind our systems as opposed to its basic outputs. As safety professionals, we need to start treating this as the new normal.

What do I mean by a new ‘normal?’ Prior to the changes the WHS Act, trust was primarily built on evidencing the procedural elements of safety management: completed toolbox meeting minutes, completed induction forms, SWMS signed off. Producing an ISO or Safety Systems certification was, in many circumstances, sufficient for many clients in respect of establishing and preserving the trust element of a relationship.

The new normal, however, demands something much more. It is my recent experience that clients are now demanding a greater depth of knowledge in respect of the application of the WHS Act, Regs, and Codes. As a simple example: It’s no longer about having completed induction forms; it’s as much about being able to demonstrate and EXPLAIN how the induction process satisfies the requirements of the principal and subcontractor under the Act. As recently as last week my own discussions with one of our key clients was based on our obligations under the WHS Act as framed against an analysis of parts of the Act from a ‘statutory interpretation’ perspective. What’s changed is that his type of higher level conceptual discussion appears to be occurring more and more frequently.

For we safety professionals the issue is not that we understand these deeper conceptual issues. The challenge comes in explaining them with succinctness and clarity. The new ‘normal’ requires that we not only understand the deeper interaction of the WHS Act with our own business, but that we can quickly and confidently convince our clients of the same. Our success in achieving this will be the foundation of new ‘trust’ based relationships of the future.

I hate outing people, but sometimes... 

My local shopping center today at around 3pm. I've emailed the Center manager. Lets see what happens.