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The wisdom of history in health and safety

There was a Chinese adage during the Boxer Revolution that went something like this ‘The people are afraid of officials, the officials are afraid of foreigners, and the foreigners are afraid of the people.’ This hundred years or so adage can be referred to some organisations and altered to the following ‘The employees are afraid of the management, the management are afraid of directors, and the directors are afraid of the employees.’


Why should each group be afraid of each other, when actually each group is working towards the same goal of constructing and delivering the entity they produce to their customers? Unfortunately, the groups don’t want to give or hear bad news to or from each other.  So, the best way for each group to operate is to function within their own silos, or so they think, as it is safe and comfortable, and everybody thinks and does the same. No-one rocks the boat

By breaking down the barriers and gaining trust and mutual respect between each group, then the culture of the organisation improves, and the silos join to become one strong unit. How do you gain trust and respect? The steps of being visible to each other, communication between groups and empowering decision makers at each sub level that they are making the right call as it is the right thing as they have their finger on the pulse at a local level.

If you need stories that inspire your people, contact Paul Mahoney at:

In the quiet times at work over a cuppa or looking for that holiday read? Why not read Paul’s Story of Man v Machine – Journey of Complacency. You can order it here at


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