What is Safety New View?

Jeff Lyth, founder of QSP Leadership, described the new approach to safety in mining at the AME Roundup 2019

by Peter Caulfield
Winners of the Safe Day Everyday Award.

From L to R: DJ Wilson, Underground Exploration Manager, Major Drilling; Kim Bilquist, Chair, Environment, Health & Safety Committee, AME; Bill Mercer, Chair, Health & Safety Committee, AME; Justin Laberge, Principal Geologist and Project Manager, at Rio Tinto, accepting on behalf of George Downing Estate Drilling. — Photo courtesy Velour Productions/AME

The AME Roundup 2019 featured surprise winners in the Safety Gold Awards and a presentation on Safety New View, making safety a key topic of the annual event.

The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME) and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) presented this year’s Safe Day Everyday Gold Award to two exploration drillers.
The winners were Major Drilling International Inc., of Moncton, New Brunswick, for achieving 1,001,838 hours without a lost-time injury in 2017,  and George Downing Estate Drilling Ltd., of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Quebec, for achieving 157,712 hours without a reported injury in 2017.

The Safe Day Everyday Gold Award was presented at the AME Environment, Health and Safety Awards Breakfast on January 30.
The awards breakfast is part of the AME Roundup 2019 conference.

“This is the first time that AME has had two drilling companies honoured with the Safe Day Everyday Gold Award,” said Jonathan Buchanan, AME director of regulatory and technical policy.

Bill Mercer, co-chair of the PDAC health and safety committee, said the biggest safety risks in exploration are the result of the activity taking place in
an open and uncontrolled environment that often lacks the controls and procedures found at a producing mine.

“Exploration is project-based and of much shorter duration, so the work is less routine,” said Mercer.

And because exploration often takes place in remote sites, emergency response planning needs to ensure that safety systems are in place because response to an accident will be slower than in a more accessible location.

“So you have a huge incentive to stop accidents happening in the first place,” Mercer said.

In addition to the Safe Day Everyday Gold Award, AME presented the David Barr Award to Paycore Drilling, of Valemount, B.C., for its professionalism and care for its rescue of a helicopter pilot following a crash.

A new approach to safety in mining

The keynote speaker at the awards breakfast was Jeff Lyth, the founder and principal of Vancouver-based QSP Leadership. With more than 25 years as a safety consultant under his belt, he discussed the evolving nature of safety management and how companies can stay ahead of the safety curve in modern workplaces.

In his presentation, Lyth highlighted some of the shortcomings and unintended consequences of conventional safety approaches, the current approach to safety and how the mineral exploration industry can work towards doing safety differently.

QSP Leadership (Quality – Safety – Productivity) is a health and safety consulting firm that provides operational leadership development training and, in its own words, “practices safety differently.” Lyth said QSP believes the conventional approach to health and safety has reached a plateau in its effectiveness and has caused a number of unintended negative consequences as well.

“Safety is a 30-year-old profession based on 100-year-old ideas, and it needs to learn and adapt quickly if it is going to keep pace with business and society,” he said.

A self-styled safety heretic, Lyth said the safety industry focuses too much on the negative side of keeping workers safe.

“Most workplaces are safer than ever, but the safety industry magnifies any injuries that occur,” Lyth said. “Safety shouldn’t be measured just by the incidence of injuries. Whether or not workers are really safe isn’t accurately reflected solely by the number of insurance claims.”

Lyth stressed that safety has more than one dimension.

“Safety is not only the absence of injuries,” he said. “It is also the presence of positive capacity, measured by such characteristics as awareness of risk, communication, innovation, improvement and productivity, all of which enable an organization to be strong and resilient, as well as safe.”

Lyth said the 100-year-old ideas of the orthodox approach to safety, sometimes called Safety-I, are based on the belief that people are a problem that needs to be controlled, that safety is a bureaucratic accountability and that safe means the absence of injuries.

Safety-I has many shortcomings, according to Lyth.

“It’s regulatory, bureaucratic and hierarchical and is based on bad science and bad data,” he said. “It’s too focused on assigning blame and meting out guilt and punishment. And because it’s so concerned with things that go wrong at work, it can’t explain why things go right.”

Unlike Safety-I, Safety-II (which also goes by Safety Differently, Safety New View and a variety of other names) is based on the belief that people at work are natural problem solvers (not problems themselves), that safety is an ethical (not a bureaucratic) responsibility and that safety means the presence of abilities.

“Safety-II is cultural, networked and humanistic,” said Lyth. “It studies why things go right.”

Other characteristics of the new view of safety include the importance of narrative, the appreciation of learning and innovation, and openness to enquiry from a multitude of disciplines.

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