The Enforcement of Safety


This week the U. S. Navy filed charges against five military leaders involved in two separate ship collisions, which killed a total of 17 sailors.

In the military, the filing of charges translates to a military trial (courts martial) and the possibility of a reduction in rank, incarceration, and/or other disciplinary actions.

Department of Labor Secretary Acosta, in his 15 November 2017 congressional testimony, stated,

“As a former prosecutor, I know well the policy reasons for enforcement. Along with compliance assistance it is equally important to enforce the laws fully—and do so vigorously—to deter bad actors from willfully and repeatedly ignoring their responsibilities and requirements under the law…The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has separate authority to initiate criminal actions—an authority that I have instructed agencies to consider in cases that merit criminal investigation.”

Accountability, enforcement…and yet there aren’t many safety courses and books that do not include a warning on the assignment of responsibility for fault (i.e. blame)?

Can leaders lead without responsibility for results?

Can safety exist without accountability?

How do you, in your professional perspective, balance “what happened and why” versus “who to blame and punish”?



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