Atlanta – A new book says that science could have helped prevent everything from the BP oil spill to the recent recall of salmonella-tainted eggs, but not the science that requires microscopes and lab coats.

In Safe By Accident: Take the Luck Out of Safety: Leadership Practices that Build a Sustainable Safety Culture, authors Judy Agnew and Aubrey Daniels argue that the solution to improving workplace safety lies not just in the latest engineering, physics, or chemistry advancements, but in the science of human behavior.

Based on decades of research and work with many of the world’s leading corporations, Agnew (Removing Obstacles to Safety) and Daniels (Bringing out the Best in People) reveal how many companies are “safe by accident” because they focus too heavily on lagging indicators, such as low incident rates. According to the authors, going a month, a year, or even several years without an incident is more likely a function of sheer luck than a predictor of a safe organization.

Moving beyond finger-pointing, the authors reveal how behavioral science, specifically behavior analysis, can help organizations eliminate counterproductive practices and foster a company-wide culture of safety -- from the boardroom to supervisors to employees on the front lines.

Agnew and Daniels identify what is missing in safety leadership, particularly around accountability, and explore seven widespread safety practices that waste time and money, such as incentive programs, safety signage, and punishment.

“At a time when recent workplace accidents have resulted in injury, death, and untold environmental and economic damage, we need to rethink our safety practices using science and proven systems rather than questionable conventions,” said Agnew, a workplace safety and behavior expert with more than 19 years of consulting experience. "Companies that fail to take a scientific approach to human behavior are gambling with their futures and putting the lives and livelihoods of their employees and communities at risk.”


Dr. Judy Agnew is Senior Vice President of Safety Solutions at Aubrey Daniels International (ADI). With more than 19 years of consulting experience and a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis, Agnew partners with clients to create behavior-based interventions leading to optimal and sustainable organizational change. Agnew has worked in a variety of industries including oil and gas, mining, forest products, utilities, food and non-food manufacturing, distribution, assembly, insurance, banking, newspapers and retail. In addition to her consulting, project management and instructional design work, Judy is recognized as a thought leader in the field of behavioral safety and performance management. Judy has presented at major safety conferences including the National Safety Council and Behavioral Safety Now as well as other key corporate conferences. She is the author of Removing Obstacles to Safety (with Gail Snyder).

Dr. Aubrey C. Daniels, founder of ADI, has devoted more than 30 years to working with organizations of all types and sizes to apply the science of human behavior in their workplace. A passionate thought leader and an internationally recognized expert on management, leadership, and workplace issues, Daniels has been featured in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fortune, CNN, and CNBC. Daniels is a member of the Board of Trustees of both Furman University and the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. He is an Associate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, an adjunct faculty member of the College of Health Professions at the University of Florida, and a visiting professor at Florida State University. Daniels is the author of four best-selling books widely recognized as international management classics: Bringing out the Best in People, Performance Management, Other People’s Habits, and Measure of a Leader (with James E. Daniels).

SOURCE: Performance Management Publications

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