Safety Awareness vs Safety Intelligence

By Dean Wiseman

What Safety Training should organisations provide for non-safety personnel?
The primary function of training is to instil knowledge and understanding of safety. Many organisations these days go further in order to develop and nurture skills to compliment the knowledge but essentially it must begin with ‘Safety Awareness’ to make the recipient familiar with the topic and the associated terminology.

Is that enough?
Safety Awareness is only the starting point. Front line staff who interact with potentially hazardous processes, materials and equipment, should receive further training to develop their knowledge (what to do) and also their skills (how to do it). This now goes beyond being ‘aware’ and enables the beginnings of competence (the skilful application of knowledge).

What about senior staff?
In the event of a serious incident Senior Executives, who are usually distant from the actual event, may well be called to account for their decisions which may have affected either the likelihood of the accident occurring or its severity. They must balance the safety of their organisation with other Key Performance Areas like cost, reducing environmental impact, capacity and efficiency. In order to achieve this they need a much deeper understanding of the topic to guide and support them in their decision-making and leadership.

Their understanding must cover vital points such as: how safety works; how incidents happen; how to interpret safety information; how to ask the right questions; where the possible threats lie; how to demonstrate commitment to safety and how to accurately determine safety performance.

This level of knowledge may be called Safety Intelligence and will help CEOs and their Directors to stay sharp on safety while growing the business.

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