Been getting a bit of feedback from people who are sick of the term “zero harm”.
In fact, I am with them – if we are talking about the old way of doing things. It really irritates me when folks talk about zero harm and they plan on getting there by fudging the definitions of incidents and accidents or by ignoring the reality of the situation. I also get annoyed when people are just cheerleading and I find it really maddening when people use terms like “Safety First” and it is imprecise, misleading or “fuzzy”.
I recognize that my most fervent allies are eventually going to be people who are against this kind of fuzzy language. They have passion for keeping people safe and a low tolerance for bull and that is what it is going to take to move this new mindset forward into the mainstream.
There is a is a basic contradiction between production, schedule, and profits (get ‘er done fast) and get ‘er done safe. That’s the truth. Anyone not directly facing that issue is not going to solve the problem. That’s the real bottom line. Fast and Safe are both are valid positions if you want to be competitive (personally, I think Quality should be in there, too). In fact, that basic trade-off between production efficiencies and safety has been happening for thousands of years.
What we found is: the best way to resolve that “compromise” mindset is to figure out how to make safety the leverage point into increased profits. If it is actually more profitable and easier to work safely, then we can make progress on this issue. No one wants to leave money on the table and no one wants people to die on their projects. It is a natural pairing – if we could only find the solutions. The solutions we found are like building blocks. We did not find a magic bullet to cure all the problems at one time. But there is a way, a path, a series of steps. It will take time and work, but it is possible.
But to get started, we have to do away with the rotten foundation that underlies the current belief system. It really boils my blood when I hear excuses for trading off safety for schedule. Those rationalizations are based on false information. But this new information is not false. It is not “fuzzy”. It is stark, transparent, and no-holds-barred. We can get to zero harm. We just have to begin now.