In my recent articles and my book. I mentioned the current stats related to safety such as recordable incident rate, number of fatalities and other indicators published by the Association of Worker Compensation Boards in Canada in 2017. They are decreasing slowly in some provinces and increasing in others in the recent years.

Also, OSHA had published the top ten safety violation in 2017, and they have not changed for seven years.

Why are all the efforts from different industries, not enough?

Currently, our society is changing drastically, a lot of new trends and technology has come to our ways that they have changed the way of how we behave. One disruptive technology is the cell phone, is not a single cell phone like in the past, it is a microcomputer in your hands that can reproduce and make videos, take high-quality pictures, having a conversation in real time by video streaming.

One of the trends that our society must face and has changed everything that has provoked to isolate ourselves from of human interaction is the digital platforms called “Social Media.”

The second change that we are facing is a generational change.

Currently, we have a mix of generations in the industries, the baby boomers, the generation X, generation Y and the millennial or generation Z. The differences between them have offered some challenges. However, there are opportunities to explore to grow such as the knowledge generated from our previous colleagues and how we can take it to adapt ourselves to the fast changes that technology is bringing to us every day so to speak.

The third change is how fast technology is moving forward that is practically impossible to keep up with it. Companies are making tremendous efforts to stay and adapt to those challenges. People who have brought these changes have thought outside of the box such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, only to mention few of them

Bill Bishop in his last book ” The Return of the Lobster” describes perfectly that these type of people go upstream instead downstream; what does it mean? They have the cure to fix a specific problem.

Have the industries changed the approach to safety? I would say NO. Therefore, here is why the Safety Zombie Syndrome appears.

Although these changes described previously; the industry has had the same message for many years, such as safety is the number one priority. We all are familiarized with that type of message.

Another message is, we comply with regulations and standards.

The industry has been tried to modify the behaviour of workers, and my favourite one the primary goal is to have ZERO INCIDENTS.

All these types of affirmations demonstrate that we are only treating the problem temporarily but not curing the issue.

In the end, the worker compensation claims are still high; the recordable incident rate is above 2.00 in some provinces in Canada, we still have the same safety violations every year for the last seven years,

That is the reason why I called these disease the Safety Zombie Syndrome.

Please, let me start with my favourite goal that many industries have.

  1. Zero Incidents. The industries have focused all the efforts to achieve this goal. Is it possible, realistic and achievable? Or Is it the ultimate goal to make?
  2. Workers behaviour. Is it the workers’ behaviour one of the causes of having incidents?
  3. Training Programs. Are the safety training programs being sufficient to reduce occurrences?

4.Near miss investigations.  Have different industries investigated the near misses?

  1. Safety number one priority. Is safety the number one priority? Or Is this goal realistic, achievable and measurable? Do we want this aim to be the top priority?
  2. Zero Recordable Incident Rate (RIR). Is this goal is attainable and realistic? Have the safety programs been successful when organizations achieve zero RIR?

I agree the answer for these questions shall be YES; however, the statistics from the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada and OSHA demonstrate the contrary.

Here is how these FIVE tips can help you to find the cure to eliminate the Safety Zombie Syndrome to see the Safety Health Brightness in your organization.

As an organization, you need to find your solutions to answer YES to the six previous questions.

  1. What do you want to achieve? Having a reactive culture to adapt to new demands from standards, regulations or codes? Or having a culture that can change to any need or challenge?
  2. If the answer is to have a culture that can adapt to any demand or problem not only for safety, for customer service, technology, etc. Do you know what your intellectual capital is in your organization? It is an essential question to answer. You should know what type of intellectual capital you have at all levels for example, how many production operators do you have with 15, 20 or 25 years of service working in that area? If you have 10 with 20 years of experience, therefore you have 200 years of expertise.
  3. Is your intellectual capital able to generate new ideas to find solutions to the challenges you have as a company? The most important question to answer and it shall be YES.

I am not only referring to people in a managerial position, but I am also asking about workers on the floor, in the trenches.

  1. The crucial question, have you used that intellectual capital? The answer to this question will define what type of company. Are you a traditional one that is focused on production and telling people what to do, or business who will have the advantage to adapt to the new challenges by finding their solutions and creating new ideas by using the expertise and creativity of its people.
  2. Consequently, if you are building your ideas to find your solutions, your goals and objectives will change, your key performance indicators will do too. For example:

You can say, I want ten ideas to increase the performance of the particular workstation.

The leadership steering committee reviews them for their approval. Somebody needs to develop the project and track the implementation such as financial resources, team performance, who will be the facilitator, who will support him or her in different areas such as safety, engineering or production, and time management.

By using your intellectual capital accordingly, companies will become more efficient and effective.

Consequently, if you use your personnel to generate new ideas to tackle specific challenges the following will come automatically and there will not be a goal anymore; it will be a result:

  1. Zero incidents. Generating ideas to predict and to become more efficient including all aspects of your operation, ZERO INCIDENTS will be a result, not desire.
  2. Worker’s behaviour. Automatically their behaviour will change because they are feeling important. They will see that their contribution to the organization is having a positive impact. Therefore perception will change.3.Training programs. They will participate and why not they can start developing their safety programs according to their needs and be in compliance. Let them learn to learn.
  3. Near misses. While creating ideas, near misses will come to the table as possible occurrences, therefore, will be able to predict and generate solutions.
  4. Safety is your number one priority. It will not be a rhetoric anymore; I will be a reality. By creating ideas to be efficient and effective, this goal comes naturally.
  5. Zero recordable injuries. It can be achieved because of the Ideas’ factory that you will be creating day by day.

At the end, who has the power to make the transition from the Safety Zombie Syndrome to the Safety Health Brightness in your organization? Your employees, why?

In times that we are living, the customer has the power to decide where to buy. There is no more loyalty to buy a particular product forever, customers find something better, and they will change in a heart bit.

With companies are the same. New generations are not loyal to a company to last long. They are looking to grow professionally, intellectually and personally; they are looking for a place to use their full talent that will make them happy.

What do you think your organization would look like if you follow all the five tips to have the Safety Health Brightness in your company? Do you want to find out?