Safety Culture Excellence®

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Technology and Safety Culture

October 9th, 2013

Trucking companies are beginning to address driver behaviors with new technologies.  Several companies make tracking devices that monitor drivers and photographically capture their behaviors and the road conditions in which they are operating.  Post trip, these companies can know how many times drivers hit the brakes hard, changed lanes suddenly, exceeded speed limits, and exhibited other behaviors critical to driving safety.  Many of these organizations are also monitoring driver cell phone calls and texting while driving.

All this information is supposedly designed to prevent accidents by changing driver behavior.  But how these technologies impact organizational safety culture seems to be an afterthought.  If used to coach drivers into better driving habits they can potentially create super safety cultures in which drivers strive for more excellent performance.  If used as an advanced way to police and punish drivers for offenses previously undetectable, they could seriously destroy safety culture and create a police state in its place.  

It is not technology that impacts safety culture, but the way in which organizations implement technology.  We have NEVER seen a safety culture punished into excellence.  We have seen many cultures coached into excellence.  How you use technology is up to you, but consider the culture you will create as well as the behaviors you will identify.  A degraded safety culture can quickly erase gains made through policing safety technologically.  

-Terry L. Mathis

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS in 2010, 2011 and 2012-2013. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence, 2013, WILEY.