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The Toronto Star is currently running a Big Ideas series turning to “hidden experts” for suggestions on how to solve the big issues facing the city of Toronto. . http://www.thestar.com/bigideas/2014/02/21/taxi_driver_is_a_hidden_expert_with_big_traffic_ideas.html

They explain that the hidden experts are “the TTC drivers, the teachers and the garbage collectors. They are the nurses working night shift in the emergency room, the volunteers who make community centres hum.”  It is reasoned that the representatives of an organization who are not the ‘doers’ may not be the best source of ideas for improvement. “The best and the brightest aren’t always the most powerful and the loudest.” Sometimes the hidden experts are the ones toiling in the background, putting in long hours.

So this got me thinking about how the concept of hidden experts relates to safety. If we are truly operating under the Internal Responsibility System with the goal to create safer workplaces, than we need to solicit the input of workers ‘doing’ the work to help to reduce hazards. Workplaces operating under this premise, would ultimately establish a path toward a culture of safety in their workplace.  

Management should be seeking out the hidden ‘safety’ experts in their organizations and encourage collaboration at all levels of the business to improve safety performance. After all, it is the ‘doers’ who have the unique opportunity to understand their jobs, see areas of improvement and identify the potential or existing hazards where they work. Shouldn’t these hidden ‘safety’ experts be utilized more often?  Perhaps we should be asking workers at all levels within our organizations to contribute with their Big Ideas for workplace safety.

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