The first episode of a fascinating social experiment was recently aired on British Terrestrial TV. The key premise of ‘No More Boys and Girls’ was that a large part of gender perception is learned, with mainly negative consequences. A class of mixed sex 7 year olds (the age at which gender stereotypes start to be laid down, but perception shift is still possible) took part in a number of exercises to identify and examine gender bias.

One particular task caught my attention. The children were asked to draw and give names to people who had 4 different job titles: Ballet Dancer, Car Mechanic, Make Up Artist and Magician. Invariably they drew and names the Dancer and Make Up Artist as feminine and the other two masculine. They were then introduced to 4 actual representatives of the said professions and, you’ve guessed it, the genders were the unconventional ones in each case.

I think an analogy to the experiment can be made within Process Safety. I believe that most of our industries treat Process Safety Practitioners like undertakers: worthy but serious and perhaps slightly intimidating individuals associated with undesirable events who are only consulted following a fatality and then shunned as soon as the burial has taken place. However, what if we learned to perceive them more as magicians who are engaging, stimulating and bring a box of tricks along to help address industrial safety gaps in an entertaining and enjoyable way.

For my part, I am keen to be part of this revolution and my box of tricks is primed and ready for action. It contains, amongst other things:

  • A recipe for conducting a sizzling HAZOP, which will keep participants engaged and absorbed
  • Several Process Safety training courses designed to maximise trainee participation and satisfaction
  • A Computer Based Process Safety Training module which leverages videos, images and multiple choice questions to entertain and inform
  • A Pop Up Process Safety presentation which playfully uses popular culture to make the subject accessible and fun
  • A colour conditioned LOPA calculator spreadsheet

So please join me in my crusade to changing industries perceptions of us one stimulating experience at a time.

box of tricks