Alphabet Soup

November 30, 2020 | By: Tyler Thornton, HSE Manager - Komplete Modular Solutions Ltd.

"Good Morning Crew – after you have read the SOP, sign the JSA and TBM, complete an FLHA and a PSI so we can reduce our LTI's. Today I also want you to do a SO so we can get our SB's. any questions?" "Hey Super – what about my COP and THA?"


Ahh, the alphabet, an ingenious standardized set of basic written symbols or graphemes representing individual spoken languages' phonemes. This is something that safety professionals have been making a mockery of for years. At some sites, safety language has become such an acronym dependant debacle that the onset of confusion sets in immediately, even for safety professionals. Did you just ask for a PSI? Is that a requirement to have a Potentially Serious Incident, complete a Pre-job Safety Instruction or requirement to check tire pressure? My head hurts.

The most exciting part of this surrounds the fact that none of these acronyms show up in legislation other than reporting requirements for a PSI (in Alberta anyway). And by the way, in Alberta, PSI stands for Potentially Serious Incident.


So why do we make this as confusing as possible? It is as if we attempted to create confusion as we strived to set ourselves apart and elevate our Health and Safety Management Systems (HSMS – HAHA!) from our competitors. Companies want to set the standard of excellence for safety by protecting their people, creating new systems that uniquely identify their efforts because safety not only sells but limits expenditures from the unforeseen circumstance. Often well intended, but poorly executed.


To take this a step further, this creates a site hazard for workers who may become confused as to the company and site requirements. Even the best orientation and site-specific awareness programs cannot immediately eradicate a transient worker's habitual understanding of previous programs. This takes a long time to convert people to "the way we do things." Industry professionals have been calling on companies and legislation to standardize the alphabet soup for decades to no avail. An unintended by-product of this is eliminating the ability to execute on general industry orientations, further ramping up costs of worker training.

I am not sure if there is an end in sight for us in Canada; however, a call for us to reduce the "alphabet soup" has been issued. We need to be transparent with our programs and eliminate company-specific acronyms.

With Komplete, we kick it old school; you will get Procedures, Formal Hazard Assessments, Site-Specific Hazard Assessments, etc. I am sure this creates confusion, but you won't hear us shouting acronyms at each other…

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