The author:

Olga Semenchik|👏2|122

March 21, 2022Russian FederationOpinion


Do you know what a Safety Culture Ladder is? Many of you do, but just in case: “Pathological” / “Nobody cares” / “Practice-based” culture - if a person falls from height, we hide it or blame the person. We will not change the way we work, because it is still the best way. “Dependent” / “Reactive” / “Incidents-based” - if a person falls from height, we issue an alert, start controlling the PPE, have multiple safety meetings and train everyone to work at height properly. Then we have a road traffic accident and forget about working at height. “Calculative” / “Independent” / “Systems-based” - if a person falls from height, we check if they had all formal training, add a few new lines to the procedure and make sure that incident investigation is properly filed. “Proactive” / “Interdependent” / “Leaders-based” - if a person falls from height, we talk to them and try to understand where we failed as leaders, and how to avoid it in the future. “Generative” / “Everybody cares” / “People-based” - everyone keeps looking for solutions to avoid falling from height before it ever happens. If a person falls from height, they will be willing to share their experience to make sure others don’t get in the same situation. You can see that sometimes those levels are very close together. No science can compete with real life. However, the theory is still useful in many ways. For example, you can think about safety culture levels when selecting the most impactful safety story. When you tell a safety story, your ultimate aim is to improve the culture. It is difficult to skip the safety culture ladder steps though. I once told a story about refusing to travel in a car with faulty seatbelt and having to wait for a replacement. “Were you late for work?” “Was your boss pissed at you?” “Who was punished, you or the driver?” (and I definitely did not expect my story about road safety to turn into a story about punishment for being late!) So, know your audience and select your stories better than I did. PRACTICE-BASED - tell scary stories. Fatalities, broken bones, suffering families, huge penalties… whatever works to make them listen. INCIDENT-BASED - the take-home message should be different now, as we want to push for a systematic approach. Talk about repeated incidents and regrets for lack of near misses investigations. SYSTEM-BASED - now it is time to talk about leaders, personal interventions and courage. Stories about errors because of too much paperwork will be also useful… and familiar! LEADERS-BASED - any story will work if it is focused on people behaviour at work and how we can influence that. Discuss more than talk, it will be interesting. PEOPLE-BASED - ask them to tell you a story :) and let me know if you know companies with that culture, I want their OHS Manager as my mentor!