often put great effort into ensuring their workplaces are safe. But, workers
can’t solely rely on their organization and others to ensure their
safety—workers must also take personal responsibility for their safety and the
safety of others. However, some workers are more rigorous at thinking through
safety issues than others. For workers to identify and predict hazardous
situations, they need both knowledge and a structured critical thinking
strategy to apply that knowledge. Safety training often focusses on knowledge
(and sometimes skills) with the belief that the workers will effectively apply
the knowledge in the workplace. Some workers will apply the knowledge
effectively, others will not.
structured critical thinking strategy ensures that workers will be more
thorough when assessing the workplace to identify and predict hazards and the
conditions, actions, and events that can create or lead to a hazardous
situation. The beauty of a cognitive approach to safety is that the strategy is
in their heads, they can’t leave home without it. They can use the safety strategy
anywhere, any place, and any time, at work, while driving, at home, and on
vacation. With SafeThink™, a
structured critical think strategy, workers remain vigilant throughout the day.
thoughtful involves not only taking the time to think through safety issues but
also requires applying quality thinking strategies.
is a structured thinking strategy that everyone can use on the fly to be
thorough at identifying and predicting hazardous situations.
SafeThink strategy helps people to be more flexible in applying their thinking
to many different tasks and work environments. The agents of cause (hazards)
are grouped into six general categories. Each categories is then further
divided into specific generalizations (e.g., rotating equipment) to identify
Just because a hazard exists does not mean workers are at risk. If a toxic and flammable liquid is stored in flame-proof cabinet in the original containers, workers in the area are not at risk.
if a worker removes the containers and walks to the work area, there is a
possibility a container could drop and break. It was the conditions, actions,
and events that interacted with a hazard (e.g., source of ignition, poor
ventilation) in the area that creates the hazardous situation.
identified a hazard, people using the SafeThink strategy then ask, Are there any conditions, actions, or events
that can create or lead to a hazardous situation? If the answer is yes,
then they ask, What are the consequences?
What can I do to prevent illness and injury?
SafeThink requires people to ask
themselves questions. When people ask themselves a question, it tends to beg an
answer, contributing to a more thorough analysis of the work and work
environment. SafeThink also advocates using structured What if . . . ? questions to identify potential changes in the
| ||When workers use SafeThink, we probably won't have to ask ourselves after an incident, What was that person thinking? |
people learn to SafeThink, they personalize the strategy—they own the strategy
and are more likely to promote the strategy. Collectively, when a group
identifies with SafeThink, they can shift individual worker attitudes
than 6500 hours of R&D were required to develop SafeThink. Industry contributed
an additional 2500 hours refining the strategy. The above explanation is very
brief—there is a lot more to the SafeThink strategy. To learn more, go to www.safethink.ca.
are your thoughts about cognitive-based safety?
Shand is President of HDC Human Development Consultants Ltd. He has 35 years of
experience designing and developing educational and training programs that have
excellent practical value and contribute to the customer’s business success. www.hdc.ca