We have been brainwashed! For years we have heard the mantra, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This has been repeated so many times that it is now an embedded part of management wisdom. It suggests that you are a third-rate manager if you don’t measure everything that can be measured. This has led us sadly astray in the field of accident prevention and workplace safety.The accident statistics feature in key performance indicators and objectives for team leaders, supervisors and managers. They are posted around the workplace and are prominent in in-house newsletters and magazines. The figures are taken as a clear indicator of workplace safety. If the figures go up it is presumed that safety has declined. On the other hand, if the figures go down everyone gets pats on the back because the workplace is presumed to be more safe.The question that I would ask to all concerned, “Is it possible to work unsafely and not contribute to the accident statistics?” After you’ve given it some thought you will probably agree that “Yes” it is possible to work unsafely without having an accident or featuring in the accident statistics.In fact, if you go into your workplace now you will find lots of people working unsafely who are not having accidents and they are not hurting themselves. You will also find, without looking too hard, unsafe conditions that are not, at this stage contributing to accidents and injuries. Once you have got over this mental barrier and realize that safety in the workplace is never reflected in the number of accidents or incidents, you will need to consider an alternative way of displaying levels of safety.Safety in the workplace could be described as a situation where there are no unsafe conditions and no unsafe behavior. Could you still have a workplace accident in this situation? I am not sure that you could. All the industrial accidents that I’ve ever investigated have had a number of components as their basic causes. Unsafe conditions and unsafe behaviors have featured in all of them. Surely, to improve workplace safety it’s necessary to eliminate all the unsafe conditions and all the unsafe behaviors because this would create an environment where it would be extremely difficult to hurt oneself.It could be said that this is a very simplistic look at improving safety. This point could have some merit, however, it is an excellent place to start the process of creating safer workplaces.