Safety Culture – The Power of Habit

| March 27, 2012

Last week I was browsing in an airport bookstore – looking for something to read on the plane. 

I found something truly amazing – at least to me.  A mainstream business book, a best-seller in fact, that had an entire chapter developed to worker safety!

Why was I amazed? 

Lately, it seems the only mention of worker safety is in the context of reducing OSHA regulations in order to unburden business.  Safety is typically demonized as a business burden not touted as a benefit.

Yet here was a book that made the convincing argument that focusing on worker safety was the “keystone habit” that drove the economic turnaround of a multi-billion dollar company.  Wow.

This book – The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – focuses on explaining why habits exist, why they are so powerful and how they can be changed.  It provides advice that can be used for changing personal habits – such as overeating chocolate chip cookies.  But it has more. What elevates it above a typical self-help book is that it also discusses the importance of organizational habits – the routines that underlay most business performance. 

As I read this book, I was struck by the similarities and synergies between organizational habits and management systems.  The routines that are the basic building blocks of habits are equivalent to the procedures (i.e. specified ways of conducting activities) that are the basic building blocks of management systems.  It struck me that the reason some organizations get great benefits from implementing management systems and others do not is the extent to which management systems are used to create and promote habits of success.

Are you interested in developing an OHSMS that creates positive cultural change?  Read this book.

© ENLAR Compliance Services, Inc. (2012)

Category: OHSMS Implementation, Resources & Tools

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