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Zero Harm: A Slogan Created for the CEO, Says Safety In Action Conference Speaker

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Andrew Douglas, Principal at Macpherson + Kelley Lawyers is one of the speakers at the upcoming Safety in Action conference organised by the Safety Institute of Australia Inc .  

According to Douglas, the only way to get money out of a CEO for business that’s otherwise been ignored for OHS is to create an appealing slogan such as ‘Zero Harm’.  

Speaking ahead of the SIA’s Safety in Action conference in Melbourne, Douglas said the language of safety and the importance of engaging with one’s workforce will be the only way to achieve the best in OHS.  

He explains that safety practitioners have developed a language and style, just as lawyers have done in the past, which is meaningless to many of the people who have to operate it.  

Andrew Douglas believes that employees must be engaged in, and own the model being applied to achieve workplace safety goals.  

It would appear that workers have trouble keeping up with the new language around safety. Acronyms are in a constant state of revision and safety must find a new language, which is understood by the people who work on the floor, feels Douglas.  

There has been growth in OHS legislation in the last five years, which imposes liability directly on directors and CEOs.  

While the slogan ‘Zero Harm’ appealed to CEOs who were reaching out to safety, the workforce was being disenfranchised since the slogan was without definition.  

Employees know from experience that injuries can still occur in the safest of environments, and totally distrust the management argument that all injuries are preventable.  

According to Douglas, leaders must lead honestly, with integrity and predictability, and safety goals must be achievable. For instance, ‘Zero Harm’ does not necessarily mean zero injuries.  

He encourages CEOs to promote the slogan as an aspirational goal while involving workers in achieving it.  

Douglas will be among 50 speakers at the industrial safety conference presented by the Safety Institute of Australia Inc at the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre from 5 April to 7 April, 2011.  

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