A groundswell: building a movement



In our recent articles on One Percent Safer we have concentrated on some of the suggestions for OSH enhancements in the 137 chapters of the book published this summer. But many of the book’s readers have been galvanised by the idea behind it: that committing themselves to make changes at workplace level could build to a cut in the number of workplace fatalities that is at once incremental – one percent – yet massive when you measure it in terms of the 28,000 lives that would be saved.

On the One Percent Safer website we asked visitors to join the movement to make that 1% difference by submitting their ideas for, and commitments to, safety and health gains they can achieve. They came thick and fast and are still coming; you can see them scrolling at the bottom of the page here.

Safety and health practitioners’ pledges come from round the globe and range from targeted suggestions to improve controls to more general commitments to change their management styles.

Some seem modest at first glance. “I will continue to try and have authentic conversations, particularly focusing on mental health and wellbeing,” wrote Delwynne Cuttilan, Head of Compliance at UK-based transport research body TRL. “I have challenged myself to ask three people “How are you today?” every day and to listen to the answer.”

“By influencing one person every day to think about safety starting with [asking] RUOK?” wrote Heinrich Havemann, HSEQ Manager at Horizon Energy Group in New Zealand. These personal commitments translate into around 1400 personal constant with colleagues over 12 months; not so modest after all.

Graeme Waller, EHS Director at The North British Distillery Company in Scotland, offered a four-point mini manifesto for more effective OSH management.

“John F. Kennedy, during his inauguration speech, said ‘ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country’.” wrote Graeme. “Answering this question, in light of the One Percent Safer movement, I can and will do the following:

1. Engage people regarding safety;

2. Empower people to be better in their roles;

3. Embrace people when they are not sure and guide them appropriately; and

4. Evolve by letting go and focus on the ‘What next?’”

Michael Aune, Special Projects Manager at HTS Ameritek in the US submitted a shorter, but no less ambitious roadmap: “Seek. Connect. Involve. Explore. Notice. Consider. Evolve.”

What these and many other submissions to the site have in common – both with each other and with the contributions to the One Percent Safer book – is that they capture the present evolutionary stage of safety and health management (and managers).

From the foundation of their training in technical risk management, many OSH professionals are developing a more sensitive, empathetic and consultative approach to their work. They are working on the personal engagement that becomes a necessity once you expand the health element of the job to include mental health and wellbeing.

But this engagement is also vital if practitioners are going to share responsibility for managing risks with the people who face those risks minute to minute. It’s an approach summed up in the One Percent Safer pledge from Claire Selby, Health and Safety Manager at SV Cuisine: “I am going to make the world 1% safer by helping those around me to see hazards, and by giving them the skills to find the workable solutions for themselves.”

Visit the One Percent Safer website, join the movement and submit your idea or pledge here.