REPRINTED FROM OCTOBER 1995

The safety profession continues to evolve as its practitioners adapt to the changing world of work and business, apply advancements in science and technology, and respond to world events. Yet, regardless of the era, safety professionals consistently demonstrate strong dedication to making the world a safer, healthier place.

This article from the 1995 Professional Safety archives challenged readers to shift from the mindset of perceiving people as the problem to recognizing process as the problem.

IF THE BUSINESS SAGES ARE CORRECT, corporate America has but five short years to complete its transformation in order to meet the challenges of the new millennium. Based on progress to date, it appears the hardest challenges are yet to come.

Efforts to re-engineer, automate, computerize, downsize and restructure the corporation have not produced the productivity gains envisioned. In fact, results have been far from stellar. Computerization has not significantly increased white-collar productivity, while downsizing has, in some cases, lowered productivity. One must wonder (as did Peter Drucker): Is doing things “righter” really the answer?

These efforts, focused on structure, overlook the true source of productivity: people. The new frontier for productivity enhancement is “re-braining” the organization— a shift to doing right things right!

Re-braining safety requires a major shift in current beliefs about what drives safety performance. The challenge is set forth here, and 12 guiding principles that will drive the process are discussed.

“We cannot expect someone who works for an insurance company to give advice on the use of their products and services to solve our workers’ compensation problems. That’s a lot like following free advice on hen house security from the Red Fox Alarm Co.” —Brent Winans

Such is the voiced opinion of one enlightened risk manager and likely the silent perception of many. With losses and insurance costs continuing to escalate as senior managers focus on “re-engineering the corporation,” the heat is on to stop the bleeding. This heightened priority has exposed numerous realities; everything is open to review.

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