It seems to me our roles in support of our company’s worker safety culture are increasingly a “journey” rather than a “destination”. I was thinking about it this weekend and suddenly had a flashback to my Sophomore high school English class of all things! My teacher, David Senecal, is likely sitting up in his grave saying – “I told you this was important!!!” I liken our “safety journey” as a direct retelling of the classic late middle age saga – The Canterbury Tales published in 1400 by Geoffrey Chaucer, where a group of 30 pilgrims traveled the 60 miles from London to the St Thomas Becket shrine at Canterbury Cathedral over a week-and-a-half period. They were a motley mix of all levels of society and trades – Knights, Lawyers, Millers, Reeves, Cooks, Merchants, Monks, Nuns, Physicians, Seamen and even some unescorted Women; quite radical for that time! They decided to have a contest in telling the best story, as judged by the Tabard innkeeper who joins the group, with the winner receiving a free dinner at the Tabard Inn, the de rigueur restaurant of the time, when they returned to London.
Chaucer was definitely ahead of his time – this tale is the stuff of Lean Six Sigma’s toolbox for innovation – Different Sets of Eyes, Gemba Walks, Brainstorming, 5 Why, DMAIC Process, Kaizen. Each subsequent story-telling helped to develop a chronicle of the current society, classes and environmental factors to achieve an end or goal. As a group, they even got a team recognition badge – inexpensive pewter tokens sold to pilgrims to commemorate their journey and allow them to bring back healing or blessings to their friends and family at home. Remember that at this time in history, the Black Plague was still afoot and in the forefront of each of these traveler’s minds – akin to us flying to a safety conference with our current Coronavirus world-wide infestation swirling in public and social media.
Doesn’t our “Safety Journey” involve a cross-functional group much like Chaucer’s pilgrims using the many different perspective, backgrounds, and knowledge to achieve our goal of incident reduction by achieving cultural change by communions and thru recognizing human behavior-based safety drivers? Those that attended our February joint meeting between Delmarva ASSP and ESSHRM’s HR organization were able to participate in a roundtable discussion of a current industry-wide challenge of drug use and impairment affecting the workplace in various ways. Our panel of experts included Safety/HR/Medical in various roles and with nearly 150 years of experience. Our upcoming April meeting is for our ASSP members to take the great opportunity to attend the Delmarva Safety Association Conference in Ocean City, MD on April 6th and 7th. These are the events that we as “safety pilgrims” need to be attending, whether in person or via WebEx, to continue our safety journey in the company of like-minded professionals.
Inquiring minds want to know – So which pilgrim’s story in Canterbury Tales reflects your unique outlook on our shared journey?
The Host (Harry Bailey), The Knight, The Miller, The Reeve ,The Sergeant of Law, Roger the Cook, The Wife of Bath, Hubert, the Friar, The Summoner, The Clerk , The Merchant, The Squire, The Franklin, The Shipman, The Prioress, The Physician, The Pardoner, The Monk, The Nun’s Priest, The Second Nun, The Yeoman, The Manciple, The Parson
Delmarva ASSP Chapter President