Second Answer to Matt

Hi Matt. Thank you again for bringing up another comment. I can appreciate your skepticism and I really love that it is so precise. That is exactly what is needed when solving problems with innovation – precisely bringing up issues that seem to be unaddressed or wrong. Let’s start with Matt’s comment first and then I will answer.

Matt commented on New Book–Safety Under response to riskex:

 Oops, what do you know, I made a spelling mistake! I clearly meant ‘learning’! What do you propose to stop me making that mistake again Dayna? I really do think it purely a money making exercise. So deluded!

I think that in this case an analogy will be most useful. There is already a tool that begins to address spelling mistakes in WordPress and most word processing software. The tool began as a spell checker decades ago, but its usefulness has evolved to the point it can recognize grammar issues and more. It underlines words so you can see that the checker thinks you made a mistake and in some cases of very common issues (like spelling “the” as “hte”) it just automatically fixes the problem. You can run spell check before sending an email. You can choose to set your default so it automatically checks before sending an email, etc.

If we had a systematic view of “accidents” like a word processor has a systematic view of spelling errors, then we could put in an accident checker at every project site. It could fix some things automatically, it could inform safety professionals of potential problems (like an exposed cord someone could trip over or icy ladder steps or …). Technology to do this is out there in the world. University students are developing smart sensors and there is simulation software and processes, tools, and technologies as described in the book. Everything a spell checker can do, can also be done in this industry. Mistakes can be caught and fixed.

But, and here is one of the most difficult issues to solve, you still made a mistake – even though you knew better. Or you didn’t pay attention when the checker prompted you and you performed the work and it was delivered with a flaw. That flaw was caused by a person and the oversight system didn’t work perfectly. That is your point, correct?

Well, that is not so hard of a problem to solve conceptually. We just need a better checker. One that is more intelligent than Microsoft Word has developed. One that has a better expert system to draw upon. One that knows and automatically addresses more commonly made mistakes. One that has a more obnoxious clarion call when you make a mistake. One that makes it impossible for you to proceed without fixing it. None of these things are even inventive solutions; they just need someone to perform the work and present it to the world. These are all just incremental improvements. But we would not be at this stage and talking about how to make it even better if software developers had not already started with the concepts and worked to make them viable decades ago.

That is what we need to do now in the field of construction safety. We need to begin to create these “safety checkers” in our industry. And let me be clear. Safety checkers are not magic bullets that will solve all problems. But it is a good start to solving this kind of construction safety problems.

There is so much money to be made by doing the things we suggest in the book. But instead of patenting the ideas and moving forward with building new companies and products, we put this out into the world for everyone to begin to work on. That way it will get finished sooner and more lives will be saved.

There are ideas for new types of ladders in the big book. There are social solutions and technology solutions and software solutions and wireless solutions, new tools, new methodologies, and new communications strategies.  There are … well, hundreds of money making ideas for ANYONE who wants to take them and run. If we wanted this to be “purely a money making exercise” then I promise you we would not have given away the information on how to make millions (maybe billions) for the price of a book.  What we want, Matt, is to save lives. That has to begin before it can be improved. Maybe the first products will only do part of the job; but they will save some lives. Those projects and their financial success will simulate other people to make improvements and others to build new and better products because now people are thinking of the problems in new ways.

We are only three people. Hundreds need to participate in the vision or develop a better future and begin to work towards it with practical real solutions. We are offering this as thought leaders out into the world to light a fire and create a call to action. We hope you and other deep thinking people will refine on the ideas and save lives at  exponentially greater numbers. We don’t have all of the answers, but we could if we just take the next step and then the next and if we think about the “impossible to solve problems” in new ways and with greater responsibility. We have gone far enough to prove that it is now possible. It will take a dedicated commitment from many, many people to refine and bring it to life.

I hope I answered your question in a not too theoretical manner. If you have more comments, I sincerely welcome them, Matt. You bring up good points and are helping to shape the conversations in important ways. Thank you. I absolutely mean that!!!

Answer to Matt

Hello everyone, especially Dave Collins, at Safety and Risk Management website (link to a book review) by Dave Collins. I’m having trouble getting back to the website right now. Seems your server is especially busy. I will try to answer some of the comments here and link back to them later. Thank goodness I asked for emails when we received a comment on your site. This is a very exciting conversation. Thank you.

Let’s get started.

Matt commented on New Book–Safety Under Construction in response to riskex. He said, “What absolute garbage!!! How do we innovate, become better people, improve processes, improve technology etc? It all comes from learning from mistakes! I am sure you Dayna have made a mistakes and learned from it! This how we move forward! Once you remove risk you stifle leaning. Would love to see how many mistakes and risks you take in your life outside of work, I’m sure there is plenty, and hey I guess you probably learnt from it!”

First, let me thank you, Matt, for your comment. I love the passion and your point is exactly right on. In fact, it is one of the foundational contradictions with trying to “solve all safety issues and get rid of risk”. That is one of the things we also discovered. Or should I say “rediscovered” because there are people in the industry who already knew this. In the book for engineers we have a sub section called “Safety vs. Risk – A Major Contradiction to Manage”. This is how we introduce the subject.

Some people are hard-wired to take risks. This is a fundamental paradigm that many people hold. Safety and Risk are sometimes at odds with each other and thus represents an important contradiction to manage.
First we need to explore our assumptions. Are we sure our objective in safety is to reduce risk? Let’s examine the whole notion of risk as undesirable. What are the positive sides of risk? What would it look like if risk was not an issue? Risk has some positive things to give to our workers, the project, and our company. When we take a risk and succeed we gain a benefit. So if risk is not necessarily a problem, then what is a more precise statement of the problem?
What we really want to avoid are the negative consequences of risk and danger. For  example, we don’t want someone to take a risk and get injured or die. But we also want the benefits (or positive consequences of risk). We want to find a new way that is faster, safer, provides better quality, requires fewer resources, etc.
Hey, if we are perfectly honest, we also sometimes want the positive consequences of danger. That thrill of beating the odds is exciting. It is why we ride roller coasters or gamble or work high in the sky or with explosives. Some people need that adrenaline rush in their lives. 
It is typical in innovation that a more precise definition leads to better understanding. And once you have better understanding of the reality of the situation, you are better able to address the underlying issues. What we need to do in order to continue in this vein is to break down ‘risk’ in general and each specific risk.
We must break down risk into more basic components of benefits and costs depending on the risky activity we would like to address (height, falling objects, over extension, committing an unsafe act, penalty caused by missed milestones that puts pressure on people, and other financials, etc.). You may recall that the ratio of  benefits versus costs is called “ideality” and so risk is deeply and fundamentally related to problem-solving and the solutions to any type of risk are available through inventive thinking. In other words:
Risk is an inventive opportunity to reach new levels of performance and safety…

Your comment, Matt, shows an important level of sophistication in your thinking. How are we going to solve the problems of accidents when it is so important to keep the benefits of risk?

That is the problem to solve!! During the writing and researching phases of this book series we spend quite a bit of time discussing this exact issue. Who should solve this problem? How does a person solve this problem? It seems impossible. And that is exactly when we realized that we would have to break a new trail, go pioneering, head off into the uncharted frontier because this solution is not already known.

What most people do at this point is compromise. They think, well, we will have to just accept some “collateral damage” (death!) to reach new levels of performance. At that point, instead of solving the problem, the person decides to think that the issue is too entrenched, that you can’t have both more positive consequences (more of becoming better people, improving processes, improving technology and learning from mistakes!) and simultaneously achieve lower negative consequences (more safety). And that is a cop-out.  We must have both. And that is when we kept moving on with our innovation process.

We were going to title our book based on the idea of “removing risk to improve safety”. Once we rediscovered this contradiction, well, you can see why we had to change the title.

Now I understand that you may be concerned that this topic is not in this particular book for workers. But we received a lot of feedback that workers would not read a 400 page book on safety so we took out some of the foundational thoughts and presented it more as solutions and quick overviews of ideas. We kept the whole foundational innovation process in the book for visionary leaders and engineers, though. (This is the category that I think you fall into).

In your opinion, do you think this was a mistake to remove it from the worker’s book? In your opinion, do you think we should add it back into the second edition (which will not be even begun for a few years)? Thank you again for your insightful comment. I believe it adds a lot to the safety community.


Scott and Dayna Interviewed on TV

Dayna and Scott were invited on TV show “Back Page” with interviewer extraordinaire Jody Seay.

What is Back Page? In 2004, Jody came up with the big idea of having a TV program wherein she got to interview Oregon authors. The show is called BACK PAGE because sometimes, when you flip to the back page of a book, you can find out some scoop about the author, and maybe even a little about the motivation behind the story. Jody sits down each month and tapes interviews with some of the most interesting people and finds out more than they probably thought they were going to tell – not only about what they have written, but what they are working on now and, most importantly, why they do what they do at all!

Jody is a great interviewer and we were both excited and honored to be on her show. Click here to watch our episode on BACK PAGE talking about “Safety Under Construction”.

In fact, once she got us talking, she could hardly shut us up – and that has never happened before according to her producer.  Watch this lively interview, learn about construction safety, and we hope you have fun. We certainly did. Thank you, Jody!


Hello world!

Welcome to our website, Safety Under Construction. We are hoping to fill this with useful information and get a good forum going of useful ideas, stories, tips, etc.