Book review

The New Zealand health and safety magazine, Safeguard, published a book review of Challenging the Safety Quo in the latest issue. You can check out Safeguard at . There are some free articles, but the review is behind a pay wall so, with the editorial permission of the esteemed Peter Bateman, I have reproduced it below:

Craig Marriott has brought together many of the concepts, ideas, thinking and practices that are now regularly being considered and applied. They will be recognised by many readers (although possibly not enough), whereas not so long ago they may have been viewed as fanciful by the more traditional practitioner.

Always seeking to challenge the status quo in safety myself, and often feeling like I’m from another planet, reading this felt like a Zeitgeist moment. If read widely enough, this could contribute to creating a defining period of new beliefs about safety.

Many of the ideas are not the author’s own, but it is pleasing how the book draws together in one place concepts from recent books and academic writing. Marriott challenges historical practice and encourages readers to think for themselves, as opposed to undergoing what he describes as a ‘procedural lobotomy’.

Although not an academic piece, some references provide the reader opportunities to deepen understanding where required. In an effort to ensure the book is not read once and then shelved, Marriott provides key points at the end of each chapter, along with highlights towards the end of the book, creating a useful reference tool rather than just another dust collector.

The book discusses often debated issues such as ‘Safety First’ and ‘Zero Harm’, with opinions that will no doubt get up the nose of some, particularly those having spent vast sums on such campaigns. But I concurred with Marriott’s views on these, as I did with most of the book to be frank, and I haven’t been able to say that about many safety books until now.

Two sentences in the book really epitomised the philosophy of our organisation: “Trying to impose a good safety system onto an otherwise dysfunctional organisation may deliver some marginal improvement to overall performance but will ultimately fail in any meaningful way to provide broader business benefits.”

And, aligned with that: “Safe production is reliable production is cost-effective production.”

These resonated because, as a company, we don’t ‘only do safety’, since neither do our clients. As Marriott attests, safety isn’t something to be kept separate, it’s a vital component of the whole business ‘system’, but if that system isn’t functioning well, health and safety won’t fix it, nor will it be implemented effectively.

I would certainly recommend this well written, enjoyable and informative read.

Reviewed by Steve Worsley, CEO of Coachio Group. Intrigued? The book is available here.

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