Safety – Combination of Common-sense Commitment and Compliance

Sponsored Article by Josy John

Human beings are cognitive and process information from a variety of sources and the five senses to arrive at a decision. Being defensive and protective are inbuilt responses/reactions within humans depending on the situation, as also attack to protect or defend from danger if the capacity to attack is available within a person. The cognitive abilities of a person are connected to common-sense too.

Common sense essentially means a trait that is found in practice by all human beings who have a reasonable approach to life. However, when it comes to safety does common sense come into play, particularly the injuries experienced by people who are exposed and the damage to the property and environment as an outcome of the accident whether it is a major or minor one?

We are in a digital age where all information is converted into digits that are deciphered by software embedded in all types of equipment and the input at one end of the world can trigger a response at another corner of the world and a whole chain is set in motion.

What is a common-sense approach? If a given situation in your opinion looks to be unsafe it will be unsafe when a careful evaluation is carried out. The “do not walk past’ campaigns organized by organizations are to develop this common-sense approach. However common-sense depends on the risk perception which has a bearing on the age of a person and the given situation when action is taken. The outcome can be useful, and, in some cases, it may result in an accident since the risk perception did not cover all the aspects that the hazard throws up and failure occurred. Common sense is an intuition that all humans possess, how it gets applied will vary depending on the knowledge and risk perception.

Commitment to a cause will depend on the understanding of the issue and the impact of not having a deep commitment to the cause. Safety is a cause when approached from a public domain angle and individuals should consider a deeper commitment to the cause of public safety. Generally, individuals who have a high personal commitment to personal safety will also demonstrate the same commitment in the interactions in the public domain and vice versa. A commitment will come in two ways enhanced knowledge of safe practices/behavior in the public space and following an unwanted incident in personal life which has left a permanent reminder on the body or in some cases the image of that incident keeps acting as reminders.

The acknowledgment of knowledge accrued in the mind over the years as something that can happen in real life if precautions are not taken or the prescribed rules are not followed is commitment. Commitment is not an act of the mind, but a decision of the will, and the tendency of humans is not veering towards making that commitment. A “what can go wrong’’ thinking accelerates the commitment of the person to safety. This thinking should become natural just as at a dinner table when the lights go off, even in the darkness if there is food in your hand it will only go into your mouth, not into any of the other orifices on your head. Commitment to safety is an act of the will and the more it is viewed in that manner the safety practices will increase and the safety culture will improve.

The knowledge which is acquired over the years should extend not only to apply in the obvious in your face hazardous situations but also in the latent (below the surface) conditions. This is where commitment comes to the fore and forces a “thinking cap” to be adorned when carrying out activities and a mental checklist is developed. The will is a decision of the heart and is exhibited when the knowledge is transferred to the will and a decision is made to abide by safety and not taking the chance and keep fingers crossed until the outcome is experienced, the finger crossing can be anywhere from seconds to days for the result to appear.

Compliance is the next step a person takes after Commitment, which is following the prescribed safety management system. In public spaces, compliance is not monitored by a third party except traffic safety and therefore an internal list of compliances must be developed and will depend on the safety maturity of the individual. Compliance at an organizational level is the default situation in places where there is maturity in the safety culture the compliance is natural. It starts with a safety induction of the person on the first day at work and enough time is taken to make the person familiar with the safety management system and the rules for safe behavior on the premises.

Compliance at the organizational level happens only when compliance occurs at the personal level since the rules of safety engagement are applied by people. Therefore, when people are non-compliant, the organization by default is non-compliant. Compliance is verified by audits both internal and external and is carried out at specified intervals. However, many individuals and organizations only focus on the Compliance part as they view it as a paper exercise, produce records matching the compliance requirements. Overnight documents and records are prepared and provided to the auditor who generally does not go beyond the documents presented before them.

Compliance must move away from producing documents and records, it should come from the commitment of the individual and organization to safety, purely from protecting human lives from exposure to hazardous conditions and preventing accidents at the workplace. Organizations that have a deep commitment will see maturity in their workforce and everybody will ensure that they take care of their buddies at the workplace by creating safe conditions prescribed in the safety management system and at the same time have a common-sense approach to the world around them.
Safety maturity is nothing but a common-sense approach as basic hygiene leads to a commitment to think and act safely by complying with the requirements of the safety management system of the organization. At a personal level set up benchmarks for safe behavior showing your commitment to safety in public spaces particularly.

Safety – Combination of Common-sense, Commitment, and Compliance.

About Josy John

Josy John is a Civil Engineer by training having graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree. After spending the initial years in India, he moved to Saudi Arabia and got into megaproject construction. He moved to the UAE after a year and spent twenty years moving to Safety after being forced by the organization. He did his NEBOSH NGC in 2000 and went on to do the Level 6 NEBOSH National Diploma in 2006 and was enrolled at Loughborough University for a Master’s program post Level 6 Diploma. He returned to India in 2012 to head the Safety function at the Mumbai International Airport T2 project with Larsen & Toubro. At L&T he accredited L&T as a training provider for NEBOSH and IOSH Courses and has taught multiple batches. Currently, he is the Corporate Head of Safety at Tata Consulting Engineers and is ever ready to share his safety knowledge in safety and construction in a variety of forums and settings.

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