From Color Personality quizzes, Type A and Type B personality profiles, and the Meyers-Briggs personality standard to the Match.com analyses that promises to create romantic bliss for you by matching you up with “your type”, Americans love to identify what “type” they are and seek out “like-minded” people. And, interestingly enough, according to W. Edwards Deming, author of “Out of The Crisis, The Essential Deming on Leadership Principles from the Father of Quality,” and many, many more books, companies also have “personality types”.
In my almost 30 years of experience in construction safety, I have witnessed firsthand that there are distinct “Safety Personalities” in construction. Here’s a list of the most common types. Which one are you?
1) The Rhett Butler: Basically, you really don’t give a damn. These contractors have told me that safety is a waste of money because “I’m going to pick them up on one corner and if they get hurt, drop them off on the next.”
2) The Kim Kardashian: Your safety personality is “no experience needed”. You “get” that you have to have someone with a title “safety coordinator” but you won’t be giving them any power or authority. So it can be anyone—a project assistant, an admin or clerical person elevated to the duty, or even a laborer who can run errands and be a “project safety coordinator”, too.
3) The Clint Eastwood: You focus on the law—yours and maybe OSHA’s. If the workers make mistakes, no worries. Your team immediately turns into either Harry Callahan in Sudden Impact with a threatening “Make My Day” or a menacing Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino yelling “Get Off My Lawn”. Zero Tolerance, control and intimidation, that’s the way to get things done.
4) The Bernie Madoff: You are all about making safety look good, really good, and gaining the trust of some very major players and global owners. But behind the scenes, it’s a different story. Your “safety” personnel do what you tell them to do and 100% Compliance Audit Reports are common. But, as one of the Top 20 global oil & gas companies recently and publicly announced at a citywide contractor meeting, “We have good news and bad news…the good news is our reported unsafe acts and conditions are way down. The bad news is our injuries, major and minor, are not.” If we are to believe the insurance companies when they say it takes 30 unsafe acts for a first aid, 300 unsafe acts for a recordable injury, up to 30,000 unsafe acts for a fatality, how do you, “Mr. Madoff”, reconcile your “A+” safety audits with all the people getting hurt?
5) The Kevin Costner: With you, safety is for real even when no one else can see or hear it the way you do. You don’t care about flying in the face of traditional safety—you know that whether its 30, or 300, or 3000, or 30,000—unsafe acts ARE happening and you want people to help you root every one of them out so you can interrupt the flow and prevent injuries. You refuse to lie about safety now and try to explain injuries later. Like Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, in the movie Field of Dreams, you are going to put together a playing field of people who believe authentic safety, administered with professional integrity, is not only possible but profitable and worthy…even when other people don’t agree or can’t “see it”. You will attract like-minded people and the major owners. You know that if you build it, they will come.
Now that you know the main Safety Personality Types for general contractors, ask yourself these two questions:
a) What type of safety personality am I teaching workers on my jobsite to get along with?
b) Is the answer to (a) good news?