The harder things are to do, the more we cheat.
If the sidewalk isn’t the fastest route to the building, we take the grass.
In the case of worker safety, if wearing PPE is difficult, inconvenient, or slows down the task, the PPE will find a new home in the bottom of the drawer or truck box.
In the case of EHS, if worker safety and injury reduction are challenging, we may instead focus on structural improvement, better worded policy, and conference attendance, ever seeking the safety “flavor-of-the-month.”
But what if program structure, policy, and the latest in BBS are distractions from the real work?
Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, asks readers where they’d prioritize qualities such as “’being comfortable with other people,’ or ‘engage people in a way that makes them want to talk with you,’ or ‘even be persuasive’?”
Developing these qualities (social intelligence) is far more difficult than tweaking programs and policies. So we convince ourselves that the latest version of a Job Hazard Analysis or an automated SDS system is the way to success.
There is no shortcut to building the capacity to work safely. No new app, no shiny PPE, no bright orange backpack from the latest safety conference. These are distractions along a path that will empty your budget, make you feel like you’re doing something, and worse, take time away from the real work.
Because if we can’t be comfortable around people, engage with others in a way that makes them want to talk, and be persuasive…we’ve really just tossed the PPE in the back of the truck.