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History of SafeStart

SafeStart is the most successful safety training process in the world.  And while you might think that a huge research grant and a team of PhDs must have been involved in the creation, the reality is, it was developed in the “real world”—from investigating real injuries of more than 20,000 people over the course of two decades.

Larry Wilson was a young behavior based safety (BBS) consultant in Canada, and his work was producing impressive injury reductions.  But he also saw the limitations of BBS.  It was effective at eliminating deliberate risk, but it didn’t get at “error” very well.  Through his training classes with 1000’s (and 1000’s) of regular workers, Larry realized states like rushing, frustration, fatigue and complacency—much more than a lack of knowledge—contributed to human errors.  By continuing to explore the role of states and errors during his classes and on-the-job observations, Larry confirmed the now familiar “4 states lead to 4 errors, which increase the risk of injury” pattern (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 – SafeStart State-to-Error Diagram
(Click to view larger image)

Of course, confirming the pattern wasn’t enough.  Larry used his vast experience as a safety consultant to develop the four CERTs (Critical Error Reduction Techniques) to reduce risk by combatting the state-to-error pattern.  You can see the influence of hundreds of observations and accident investigations in these simple, yet powerful techniques.  As Larry says, “this is what it’s really about, skills that you can use in real time”.

Now he needed a course and Larry used his personal style and experience to write workbooks and video scripts that were straightforward, humorous and engaging.  It worked: SafeStart clients were and are reducing their injury rates and equipment damage by 30%-70%.

The story might have ended there, if it weren’t for one particularly negative workplace.  Grasping at anything to get the workers to pay attention, Larry mentioned that the online course was available free to family members.  And people woke up!  As Larry says, “almost everybody cares more about their family’s safety than they do about their own”.  So he developed an extensive 4-DVD package, SafeStart Home, with resources the employee can use to teach family members the same safety skills they learned at work.  This was truly a revolution in the workplace safety training industry.

And the start of a revolution for the world.  SafeStart is now available in 32+ languages, used in over 60 countries; over 3 million people have been trained.

For Larry, and the SafeStart community, it’s also personal.  Speak with Larry and you’ll realize his sincerity and his passion for helping everyone—workers and especially their children—prevent injuries.  We welcome you to this community of safety professionals and our mission to improve safety everywhere.