Last week in Part 1, we saw how the South Seas explorer Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy was able to implement an effective five-point safety program to manage the risks of scurvy aboard ship. This was a remarkable accomplishment that Cook would never have been able to pull off without first securing the commitment of his crew. To win the crew over, Cook relayed some frightening statistics regarding scurvy and the chances of surviving a sea voyage.
In some ways, the experiences of Captain Cook in the 18th century are typical of the challenges faced by today’s safety director. Here are some of the lessons to be learned and how they apply to the modern safety profession.
The Importance of Commitment
Cook’s plan to deal with scurvy hazards aboard naval vessels was in its essence a workplace safety program. Cook had to win buy-in from the workforce to ensure successful implementation of that program.
Safety directors of today face the same challenge. Based on years of experience in implementing safety programs at numerous corporations, I know the importance of commitment to program success. I have learned that safety programs work best when they have the commitment of the various workplace stakeholders, including top management, labor unions and employees.