“Safety is no accident!”

For some reason, I am thinking about safety, and this well-known slogan came to mind.

It makes you think

It is a neat double entendre. Not surprisingly, “safety is no accident” is a slogan that is widely used to convey the importance of taking a positive approach to safety, along the lines of: “our record of no accident did not happen on its own, you know!”. While this makes us smile, it also carries a serious message.

It keeps you awake

In areas of operation where safety is taken particularly seriously, it provides a useful focus on the need for continuous vigilance, effort and development. “Safety is no accident” is perhaps best known in the field of aviation. Writing this just before boarding a transatlantic flight, with “the world’s favourite airline”, makes me particularly mindful of this!

It shares responsibility

One of the most important requirements in the field of safety relates to the need to depersonalise everything, although this might at first seem counter-intuitive. It is important to focus on “what is right” rather than “who is right”, because it is important to pursue information and facts; and this requires us to avoid blaming people.
The objective is to improve safety but, of course, “safety is no accident”. So, when any incident has occurred, the pursuit of blame is counter-productive. A cost has been incurred, so the objective is to maximise the benefit available. This involves learning as much as possible, with the purpose of reducing as far as possible the chance of a similar incident happening again. If there is any suspicion among those involved in an incident that blame is likely to be apportioned, then those people will naturally tend to react by withholding information, by fabricating information and by deflecting blame onto others. All of these behaviours are extremely counter-productive in the pursuit of knowledge of what actually happened.

…and another thing!

“Safety is no accident” carries a broader message: this applies not only to dangerous situations, but also to any outcome that we would prefer to avoid!

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