Explorator Consulting :: What Does Safety Look Like?

Andy Murdy

What Does Safety Look Like?

I really want to get away from the snow theme.  It’s been at least five days now and I’m bored with it all.  One day of snowballing is quite enough, thank you.  But I was musing, as you do, about things and then I saw that it was snowing in Madrid.  That’s unusual.  It hardly ever snows properly in Madrid in my experience.  We lived there for three and a bit years and we had snow a couple of times and even then it had gone by lunchtime.  Well, by 3pm which is lunchtime there but it’s heading for tea time in other bits of the world.  Anyway, I digress.

The contrasting way we do things in different parts of the world when it snows is interesting.  In Russia you get off school when the temperature is -35 C at 7am apparently.  In the USA they have ‘snow days’ which can be made up at the end of the school year.  In the UK we have little snow but it does happen every year.  Only the quantities and inconvenience change.  And actually the inconvenience changes depending on where you are in the country.  Scotland copes pretty well, London stops with snow.   By contrast Canada and Scandinavia cope admirably.

So what’s the difference, and why the obsession with snow?

Well, there are different types of snow but it is all snow.  We know when it snows because there is white, cold stuff everywhere.  That’s simple.  The difference between snow where people are prepared is that it is less of an issue.  If you live with snow enough you work out what you can and can’t do.  And you prepare, take precautions and manage the impact.

Safety is a bit different.  We often struggle to describe safety.  We can deal with it as an absence of injury, or a presence of management systems and precautions.  We can measure different types of behaviour like wearing safety glasses or helmets.  But what does safety actually look like and is it the same everywhere?

Personally, I think safety is the same everywhere.  The difference is more often in how it is achieved.  ‘People not being injured’ is the same.  Management systems will vary.  Behaviour will, to some extent, vary.  Availability and type of resources is unlikely to be the same in Spain as it is in Ghana.

But that still doesn’t describe safety.  I’m interested in your thoughts…

“Only the quantities and inconvenience change. And actually the inconvenience changes depending on where you are in the country.”

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