January 13, 2012

Soundbite Safety

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The USA is having a presidential election this year, and there are several candidates working to become the next President of the United States.  It is important to the candidates that they are featured in the news on a regular basis to keep their candidacies alive.  In responding to news reporter questions, these candidates will often have short concise answers to questions that may be broad in range and very difficult. These short answers are known as "soundbites".  Unfortunately, it appears that some of the candidates' knowledge does not go beyond the depth of the soundbite.

Health and safety professionals must be effective in communicating safety and health principles to their constituents in the same way that politicians communicate with their constituents.  

We must be able to clearly answer questions from workers and managers as they relate to acceptable risk in the work place.  HOWEVER, WE MUST GO BEYOND SOUNDBITE SAFETY with its short answers offering plattitudes and slogans.  

There is no shortcut to understanding the basis of safety standards.  It is important to know why the exit doors must open in the direction of travel.  We should be able to provide follow up information on standards beyond just saying something to the effect that is an OSHA regulation or that's the rule.

I encourage those of you preparing to take a certification exam to go beyond memorizing facts and standards relating to safety.  You should strive to understand the reasoning behind the standards and why the calculations work.  A greater understanding of the principles can help you function and communicate more effectively with your workers, managers and clients.

Read 3512 times Updated on March 29, 2012