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Pray for Safety(1999/07)

One of the most unforgettable events during my three months study trip with company A, the branch of a world class leader in interconnection business, is that I found out in one Monday morning, all the key staffs in the plant were absent from the office.

The plant was very well run, highly automated and all the staffs had worked for the company more than 20 years, so the operations were quite mature and most management decisions are of maintenance type. In a word, the plant was in control. Then, why all staffs were absent from their desks?

Later I was told that plant manager led all the staffs to the Shinto shrine in the plant. This was indeed a surprise for me since I had stayed in the plant for one month and didn't know where the shrine located. I asked the plant manager the reason for this ritual, he told me that in last year, some accidents in the high-speed presses did occurred and the presses were fool-proofed. These were rare accidents for the last 20 plus years. They couldnot find out the causes of the repeated accidents. The plant manager accepted the advice to set up an internal shrine.

Later I joined a company with total different philosophy of safety. The company believes that all accidents can be prevented and studied. All employees need to study the Safety, Health and Environmentalism (SHE) knowledge and practice them. I learned a lot from the SHE philosophy and practice. We learned to think that the subject matter of SHE is of science. We learned not to pray for the miracles from the heaven. We can improve continually with Plan-Do-Study-Action cycles in SHE management.

Now in China and in Taiwan, the various practices of superstitions and praying for gods are quite common and are prevailing. I can tell you hundreds of cases in which people are trying to bribe gods for safety and profit. I believe these are actions with best intention and efforts. But they are not enough and they are wasting their time.

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