Opinion: The safety disco

Les Linklater
Les Linklater
Les Linklater
Opinion by Les Linklater

Cast your mind back to your awkward teenage years and your first school disco; that uncomfortable rite of passage with boys on one side and girls on the other. It took insurmountable courage for someone to dig deep, walk across no-man’s land and ask someone to dance to the latest single from Wham.

Too often, nobody stepped up to challenge the accepted tradition, despite perhaps wanting to. The situation was left to the bravery of two poor teachers who unashamedly put their best foot forward and eventually encouraged others to do the same.

Fast forward to now. Our industry is at the unpredictable mercy of our economic circumstances and our collective efforts. It is standard practice to do anything that will prove our individual worth and value.

Take, for example, our safety standards and guidance.

We want simple, sustainable solutions that won’t break our banks. But instead of sticking with the accepted good practice, or industry-wide standards already produced, we enhance, tweak and adapt them to suit our individual needs or corporate colours.

The result? More standards and guidance documents than we have use for. It is little wonder we have complexity, confusion and chaos.

Our desire for simplicity is so ironic, given that in the last month everyone I’ve spoken to is looking for a safety toolkit that is simple, cost effective, better value and delivers improved safety outcomes for everyone in the industry. And before you ask, a myriad of standards do not bring better safety outcomes. If the standard is not fit for purpose, then help us fix it. Don’t develop a new one!

But for some reason, we can’t stop. Regardless of wanting to change an uncomfortable situation, we go along with the accepted tradition. We shuffle our feet, stand on the side-lines watching others make brave attempts, and hope that someone will rescue us.

Wake up and smell the cheap fizz. This isn’t a school disco. We don’t have two teachers to break the silence, resolve the situation and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

Stop creating differences when we are struggling in this downturn together.

Ask yourself why you’re wasting precious money on safety solutions when they’re at your fingertips already. These challenging times are an opportunity to reduce complexity and work together, using solutions that have been created by the industry, for the industry.

Remember your Step Change membership, and what it entitles you and your company to: guidance on good practice, publications and tools that have all been created in a tripartite, collaborative environment by industry professionals who are committed to working together to improve our safety performance.

This downturn is an opportunity to break away from the crowd and be different – together. Be the change you want to see.