The One Thing You Need to Know about Workplace Safety
In The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, the authors share physicist Dr. Lorne Whitehead’s work demonstrating that a domino is capable of knocking down another domino one-and-a-half times its size. What that means is that a domino that is just 5 millimeters tall can knock down a domino 7.5 millimeters tall, which then could knock down a domino 11.25 millimeters tall. In such a manner, it would only take 29 dominoes to knock down the Empire State Building.

To help readers identify their own first domino, the book suggests they ask themselves the following question: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Inspired by the book, the author surveyed and interviewed safety professionals and company leaders and discovered a few common themes and patterns about their ONE Thing across four main categories:

  1. their upcoming safety initiatives,
  2. targeted safety practices,
  3. the role of senior leadership in safety and
  4. the beliefs of those on the frontline of performing the work safely.

Survey Results

Respondents represented a wide range of industries including safety consultancy, utility, manufacturing, government, construction, mining, oil and gas, military, and health care. Below is a summary of their responses to four questions.

What is the one most important safety initiative you want to make progress on this year?

Most respondents (Figure 1) reported initiatives targeting behaviors such as improving reporting, critical thinking, planning, or psychological safety. Many responses in this category referred to ownership and culture in general. Next most common were behaviors targeting employees’ hazard recognition or risk acceptance skills. Several organizations reported focusing on centralizing and streamlining their documentation for employees or for certification purposes. Others had software or training roll-outs in progress.