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The Safety Victim

We always start with; Safety is “Controlling and Reducing Exposure” (CARE) to hazards, and everyone plays a role in safety. Safety is achieved through our actions (Behaviours), either as employers or as employees.

So understanding and applying Human Factors to safety efforts and enhancing organisational culture is an important strategic element.

Stephen B. Karpman, M.D. defined a behavioural model to map conflict or drama-intense relationship transactions. The Karpman Drama Triangle models the connection between personal responsibility and power in conflicts, and the hindering roles people play. In this post we look at the role of the Victim, a person who is in an avoidant state.

The Victim: The Victim’s stance is “Poor me!” The Victim feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed, and seems unable to make decisions, solve problems, take pleasure in life, or achieve insight.

So many times I hear people say;

“Safety is over the top”

“I just turn off once I get to work, they will tell me what to do”

“Safety is such a waste of time”

These are signs people have fallen into the victim state. Safety has become a burden to them, they feel oppressed, powerless, victimised and unable to make decisions. This means people are becoming externally focused and are relying on other people to keep them safe.

This is such a dangerous place to be, because exposure to hazards is not being considered proactively. When we avoid our roll in safety we rely on the systems to keep full control of hazards, which means people are putting their lives on the line for a piece of paper. You know what I have never know a piece of paper to save a life.

As this victim mindset grows our exposures grow with them as people do not notice when things change around them. We all know things change quickly, so when people are in a victim mindset they are not noticing change or avoid the process of apply change management.

When people are fixed in the victim mindset they no longer consciously thinking about the consequences of their actions when interacting hazards.  This becomes truly problematic as safety performance is now uncontrolled and exposure is increasing from task to task.

So how is the victim mindset created and avoided?

Victims are created by Persecutors in the workplace, people or processes which over burden or oppress  people. This is when safety becomes an enforcement strategy rather than a CARE strategy. For example when procedures and rules are used to punish people  then people feel victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless and unable to make decisions.

So to turn this around we must apply procedures and rules to protect people, as guidelines to assist them in taking control of their own safety and become safety champions. Making people feel empowered and CARED about means safety becomes about being protected from hazards.

So make sure your systems and your leadership foster Champions and not create Victims.

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