Ode to Augusta: Incidents Still Happen in Perfect Environments

Incidents Still Happen in Perfect Environments


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Last week, Dustin Johnson recorded the lowest score ever and won the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National during an odd, COVID-influenced November timeframe. Several years ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend a practice round at the Masters during its traditional April schedule. As advertised, the course was immaculate with its vividly green grass, azaleas in full bloom, undulating hills which TV can’t fully capture, and expansive grounds without a leaf or twig out of place. Birds even chirped in the trees (which, for some reason, were noticeably absent of squirrels). This hallowed ground was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Almost.

A decade ago, I worked with several pharmaceutical companies in Puerto Rico. At one memorable location, I parked my rental car and was surprised to find myself in an Alice in Wonderland-like piece of property. The facility was surrounded by several acres of lakes, waterfalls, manicured hedges, and flowers of all colors and shapes. Inside, the building was also immaculate…modern furniture, expensive paintings, and very, very clean facilities.

My first thought was simple: How does anyone ever get hurt here?

Despite a pristine work environment with updated rules, tools, and equipment, people were still getting injured on the job. We partnered with leaders to develop a robust behavioral safety program to promote personal ownership for safety, increased peer-to-peer safety feedback, and streamlined safety systems to reduce risk. As the image shows, preventing serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs) requires a focus on three key areas: attitudes, behaviors, and human performance. Tackling injury prevention with only one (or two) of these elements is insufficient. It takes a holistic, comprehensive, and tactical game plan to improve safety culture and prevent SIFs. When we partner with leaders, this typically involves safety culture assessments, strategic planning, leadership and front-line training on human dynamics, executive coaching, and ongoing advisory support. It’s not always easy, but smart and concerted effort is required to reach new levels of safety culture maturity and SIF prevention.

So, take a comprehensive approach in your efforts to improve safety. And make that trip to Augusta in April if you ever get the chance.