♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Jan 2017
     

Are you a Safety Professional?

Your bookshelf reveals all

Picture: The Safety Rep's Bookshelf

     

As a student, I was in residence with the De Vynck family. To this day, I still remember Dr. de Vynck’s study vividly. Two of the walls were covered with bookshelves from floor to ceiling and the shelves were filled with books. The study smelt like a library – it had the smell of knowledge and wisdom. But this was not just a pretty display of books. Dr. de Vynck had read them all. He could pull a book off the shelf, open it and quote a relevant section on the topic under discussion. He was a true professional.

What does your bookshelf look like?

Maybe I should first have asked if you have a bookshelf and, if yes, what does it say about you? Have you read the books, or are you merely practising ‘shelf-development’? When I meet people for the first time, I prefer to do it at their offices so that I can look at what is on the walls and what is on the bookshelves – to see who they are. This picture, to me, speaks volumes! By the way, I always start my inspections with the safety manager’s office!

What have you written?

I’m not talking about rules and procedures, standards and instructions, or emails. What I mean is: What insights and observations, in safety, have you made and shared with other people, on a regular basis? There is nothing that deepens your understanding of something more than when you share it in writing!

My third question

How would you feel if your doctor, lawyer, engineer or any other professional who provides you with a personal service, didn’t stay up to date with the latest developments in his field of expertise by, amongst other things, reading books (by ‘books’ I also mean articles, magazines and the like)?

If your answers are negative, then you need to ask yourself if you are truly a Safety Professional, especially if you work in a consultative role. Now I know we all have valid reasons as to why we can’t read or write ‘books’. Time is always at the top of the excuse list even though we always manage to make time for what is important to us. If self-development is important to you, you will make time to read and write.

On bookshelves

Instead of the traditional bookshelf, you could go for a digital bookshelf, i.e. have articles of interest, videos and images, especially photos, stored on your computer. These should be filed in such a way that any one of them can be easily found when you want to refer back to it. This is what I call good digital housekeeping, with ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’. I have over 14,000 photos, 42,000 files, all named and catalogued in some 2200 folders. I can find information at the click of a button, when using my search function. It goes without saying that, in order to build up an online library, you have to read and write online. There are many platforms to do this effectively and LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Alerts are just a few.

By the way … I practise what I preach. This article was inspired by one of Seth Godin’s posts [1].

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  • Take a look around your office now and make a call about your ‘bookshelf’.
  • Look at your online library. Is it a bin or is it a labelled filing cabinet?
  • Write or share something now, preferably adding your own, fresh insights. Make it a habit, not a flash in the pan.

[1]   Seth Godin, “Fully Baked”. 2016.

ESSENTIAL LINKS

The S.H.E. ATM – search the ATM for information

The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide – what it is and why you need it

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