What can OSH practitioners learn from magicians? As our cover feature reveals, a surprising amount, and it's fascinating stuff.
Rubens Filho, director of magic at Abracademy, and one of the magicians interviewed for the article, suggests that magic opens minds and shifts perspectives. 'If OSH professionals can be more curious, innovative and confident – therefore more magical – they are likely to have a much a greater impact in the businesses where they work,' he says.
Another magician, Dr Gustav Kuhn, adds that magic exploits cognitive loopholes, and this has an important cross-over into health and safety.
As Kuhn explains: 'If you’re not aware of those loopholes, it’s very easy to blame people for mistakes. Awareness of the loopholes might help in designing systems that are more resilient to error.'
Readers only have to thumb through the prosecutions we have covered over the years to see how important it is for companies to put sufficient safeguards in place as a vital measure to prevent accidents.
But raising awareness of the 'blame culture' that can be prevalent in some businesses is only one of the 'tricks' that magicians can demonstrate to the OSH audience.
Employees are not always comfortable challenging colleagues’ unsafe behaviour, particularly if that person happens to be their boss. There is a tendency to put unquestionable trust in people we see as being experts.
Fortunately, there are many examples of businesses that do actively encourage employees to speak up if they feel something is not right. Take ITV and its Leading Risk programme (see our case study, Programme notes), which encourages junior staff on productions to raise concerns when they have them.