Instant Behavior Modification

Art Fettig’s Declaration of Interdependence

I was just reading what it says under Visit Our Website below. “instant behavior modification…”  Man does that sound like a crock. If I hadn’t witnessed it myself time and time again and had clients write and express their own shock at what had happened then I would say it was impossible.  Lets go back a bit to when I first investigated my first employee industrial injury.  There was a blank we had to fill in on the report under Cause of injury.  Well, it was the vogue of those decades to write in that blank, “Human error.”  Somebody did something wrong. When I talked to fellow workers they would often remark, “I knew he was going to do that.” and if you asked why they didn’t say or do something to prevent it they would answer, “Oh, you just can’t tell him anything.”  Safety records were horrendous. In the late seventies the idea caught on about being your brother’s keeper and I spoke at the National Safety Council for three days for a full house of over 2,000 each day.  I recited my poem titled My Brother’s Keeper and it was then printed in a number of safety magazines. Some folks wrote me that they had made copies of the poem and had their workers sign them.  Let’s cut to the quick.  In time I created my Declaration of Independence later changed to Declaration of Interdependence. On this document every employee of an organization made a commitment to not only look out for their own safety but also the safety of all fellow workers.  When you spotted an unsafe act or unsafe condition you agreed to take immediate action.  Thus we turned everyone in an organization into a member of the safety team.  Now if you buy the concept that most injuries can be prevented and that a whole mess of injuries are caused because of “Human Error” then you suddenly discover that quite often workers get hurt doing something stupid or unwise,which they know darn well they should not do.  Furthermore, if a worker knows that he or she has given everyone else in that organization permission to interact with them in a positive manner if they observe them working unsafely it just stands to reason that most reasonable workers will stop doing that which might get them injured.  Nobody enjoys being corrected for doing something wrong so the easy course is to do it right in the first place.

If you’d like a copy of my Declaration of Interdependence just go to our Website and read the article titled Simplify! Simplify! The Declaration is included in that article with other information.

Often safety leaders would tell me that they were burdened with an aging work force.  They would be sure to include that oft used bromide, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I would remind them that we are dealing with often reasonable, intelligent, loving kinds of people, not dogs.  And when they dusted off that one that goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make ’em drink.”  I would remind them that you can put salt in the horses oats. They’ll drink.

So why am I telling you all of this?  Where is this leading?  Probably nowhere. Most safety people are pretty well set in their ways and that is fine with me. I just wanted to share with you some of the amazing things I have discovered about people being in this safety field since February 1948.  People are willing and able to make some wonderful things happen in the way of safety if you just give them the opportunity.

Oh, I’ve learned that it takes a pretty powerful safety meeting which is entertaining and emotional and which
pulls on your heartstrings and is loaded with logic and such and the result is that everyone that attends instantly wants to sign such a commitment document, still I exhibited many, many hundreds of times that it can be done and the result is an instant change in behavior and attitudes too.

I realize that most behavior modification folks in safety want a minimum of a year to study your situation and that they let you know you shouldn’t expect any change for maybe a year or two but I have been told time and again that all of that study and all of that messing up your productivity and such generally results in a whole lot of confusion, frustration and, in the end, very few positive results. I believe in an instant approach. It works and saves a whole lot of time and heartache too. I’d be interested in your ideas on this. You can reach me at – Art Fettig

One thought on “Instant Behavior Modification

  1. It’s interesting.. old dogs vs young pups… old dogs have the experience and know why certain safety rules and regulations are in place, from first hand experience.. the loss of a co-worker, an injury, etc. Young pups see it as rules and regs on paper, it doesn’t MEAN anything… until they’re hurt or “experience” something… give me an experienced dog over a young pup any day.


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