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INDUSTRY BODIES ‘RETHINKING’ CDM AND SAFETY

ICE, RIBA, CIC health and safety panels embrace ‘new’ approaches

It has been reported by Construction Manager that members of the Health and Safety panels of the ICE, RIBA and Construction Industry Council (CIC) are exploring a concept called ‘CDM Differently’.

The initiative has its origins in the book Safety Differently by Australian academic Sidney Dekker published in 2014.

The book argues that organisations face a new era which calls for a different kind of safety thinking which sees people as the source of diversity, insight, creativity, and wisdom about safety, not as the source of risk that undermines an otherwise safe system.

Dekker calls for a kind of thinking that is quicker to trust people and mistrust bureaucracy, and that is more committed to actually preventing harm than to “looking good”.

People are the solution not the problem

Construction Manager reports that Tony Putsman the CIC Health and Safety Panel vice-chair describes “CDM Differently” as a “project-led approach, with team-based risk management in a collaborative team” with a reduced emphasis on bureaucracy “which gets in the way of risk management”, adding:

“We decided we wanted to deploy ‘Safety Differently’ in a construction context, the RIBA and ICE are leading and then we hope others will get on board. There is already interest from the CIOB, so there is already embryonic development of ‘Safety Differently’. There is a strong feeling and recognition that the professional bodies have to take control of health and safety development in the professions. We’re also keen that the professions have a common approach, and the CIC is the level where there’s a pulling together of construction-wide issues.”

Dekker’s ideas are also being taken forward on some Laing O’Rourke projects following use by the company in Australia.

Vaughan Burnand, of the CIOB health and safety panel, commented:

“I’ve been helping Tony with the process, and we’ve been working with a guy called Andrew Townsend who wrote a book called Safety can’t be measured.  So what we’re trying to do is apply the same thought process that is being applied through Andrew’s book and try to people to get in a different way of thinking when they look at CDM.”

Safety Can’t be Measured : An Evidence-Based Approach to Improving Risk Reduction by Andrew S. Townsend criticises trying to continuously improve something in which improvement cannot be measured. The received wisdom underpinning safety management and regulation is not evidence-based and much of it is misguided.

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