While it is no longer acceptable to assume that all men are stronger than all women, or that people of one colour have different personalities to those of another colour it is, it appears, entirely acceptable to declare that anyone born since 1980 is addicted to social media and will ‘challenge traditional hierarchical HSE systems’, while anyone born before that date is a luddite with no understanding of the modern age, but will be quite happy to toe the line.
In the days when most computers had black screens with green text, the term ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (WYSIWYG, pronounced whizzy-wig) referred to new computers that were being developed by companies like Apple and Xerox, where documents appeared on the screen as they would be printed.
In J is for Just Culture, the definition for the term was given as “a culture in which frontline operators and others are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions taken by them which are commensurate with their experience and training, but where gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts are not tolerated” (see IOSH Magazine, January 2019: bit.ly/37jtUXN).
In C is for Causality we questioned the nature of causality. When Fred trips on building materials across the path while making a phone call, did the obstacle cause the trip or was Fred’s inattention the cause?
In his 1879 publication Notes on Railroad Accidents, Charles Francis Adams describes how a rail company chose not to implement a block protection system because it feared that “those in charge of trains and tracks, who have been educated into a reliance upon it under ordinary circumstances, will, from force of habit if nothing else, go on relying upon it, and disaster will surely follow”.
There are many situations where safety and health professionals need to ask questions. From interviewing potential recruits, through safety conversations and audits to accident investigations, the right question, asked in the right way at the right time, might provide the crucial information. The wrong question, or one asked tactlessly, can cause someone to clam up or provide a misleading answer.