Creating a clear safety policy surrounding your operations can be a real challenge. It was MIT professor Edgar Schein, who reasoned that only when there is sufficient understanding of the existing risks within all layers of the organization, a company can move its focus forward towards innovating, changing, and creating a desirable culture for its employees to flourish. Elements which over the past years, with increasing frequency, have been theorized to be an incredibly effective safeguard. It is thus critical to connect the Hearts & Minds of your organization in a clear understandable message for all.

In this blog post, inspired by Continuous Safety in their guest blog on ‘five words for success’, we will go over which five risk management words to use in your efforts towards making 2021 a success.

Words are one of our most inexhaustible sources of meaning. A powerful tool, capable of both remedying and inflicting injury at the same time. To illustrate this aspect – clear and understandable policies can inspire and empower, whereas confusing or vague communication can cause incidents or even injury. Now that 2021 has shown her face, we at CGE Risk have selected five words capable of constructing a single organizational language:

  • safe
  • sustainable
  • risk
  • effective
  • joy

Together, these five words create an orderly sentence that sets the tone for the new year. Ideally, you would run an organization which practices:

The safe and sustainable management of risks, effective in its efforts, and perhaps most important after an eventful 2020, joyfully put into practice.

It is important to note that the order of the five words has been carefully selected. Changing the order makes a definitive difference and would produce an entirely different sentence. Consequently, changing the risk message and its priorities. In the following section we will go over each word and their importance.

Words and their meaning

Safe – to be protected from or not exposed to danger or risk, not likely to be harmed or lost. Safety in a holistic practice should be the priority. However, in the reality of business this generally cannot be the case. Organizations are constantly faced with the allocation of limited resources whether financially, physically, or on a human level.

Sustainable – able to be maintained. In corporate policy making, ‘safe’ should still be first on the list. Why? Well, think of what happens if your operations are trimmed to be purely effective rather than safe. Switching the sentence order. In this case, the organization would be reaching its goals, likely financially implicated, but at an incredible residual cost unsustainable in the long run.

Effective – successful in producing the desired outcome. On the other side of the spectrum, ‘infinite time, money, and effort could be spent on risk reduction,’ however, such a practice would not be sustainable either. It is with this in mind that many principles such as ALARP thinking ‘as low as reasonably practicable’ have been developed. ALARP can be defined as the principle standing for the reduction of residual risk as far as reasonably practicable.

Joy – a feeling of great happiness. It is often said that when we are interested in something or an action brings us joy, we consider it worth the time and energy it takes to excel at this. In the Hearts & Minds methodology, employees throughout the organization invest in a working knowledge of health and safety topics. However, this interest should also be fostered by the organization itself. Think of the growing support in using gamification as a tool to improve risk management engagement across the workforce. Proven to boost the effectivity of risk management operations within the organization, ‘joy’ in 2021 is not to be overlooked.

Risk – situation involving exposure to some form of danger. Forming the thread, which is weaved throughout, risk will always be present. Categorized third in our sentence, behind safe and sustainable, risk is what you could call a ‘necessary evil’. If left uncared for, possible of inflicting great damage but at the same time impossible to live without. Risks will always have to be managed.

Making sure your organization speaks a single and consistent safety language is a great step towards making your risk management a 2021 success.

For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind – Eleanor Everet


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