The other day a friend of mine forwarded an invitation to an event on safe behaviour. This invitation advertised (apparently successfully because the event was full-booked in no time) among others with the following quote:

“Experts will give you tools that enable you to have employees working safely by themselves” 

(my translation, which alas doesn’t perfectly capture all nuances)

This text looks perfectly innocent, well-intended even. After all it appears to aim at improvement of safety! But let’s look closer at what they are actually saying.

Decomposing the quote from the end, “have employees working safely by themselves” says in fact that people aren’t able to work safely without someone prescribing how to do it. Even more, not only are they incompetent or ignorant when it comes to safety, apparently they aren’t particularly motivated either. They cannot or want not to work safely without an intervention.

But despair not. In the first part of the quote lies Salvation! Luckily there will be experts at this event that teach you (the safety practitioner) how to deal with these impossible workers.

Has anyone actually thought what kind of message and attitude towards the majority of the population speaks from this tiny quote? People are dumb, lazy, unmotivated and need experts and safety practitioners to do their jobs properly.

As far as I know, nobody ever comes to work with the objective to do a bad job; getting up in the morning with a thought of “today I’m going to have me a nice little accident”. If this event isn’t going to be a prime example of doing safety TO people instead of doing it WITH them, then I wonder what will.

I’m not particularly surprised that people have a certain perception of health and safety. If this is how we approach them in a condescending way, we shouldn’t be surprised that they find us arrogant and remote from reality. So my advice:

Watch you language!


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