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A katharologist gives a damn about safety.


I have been on a housekeeping mission as of late. It has not originated from a whitepaper that talks about 5S strategies for millennials. Nor am I recently motivated by the hype of cost savings by using AI to evaluate a working environment to determine if everything is in its correct place. Instead, my curiosity is around housekeeping as a leading indicator and the attitude of leadership to significantly care about safety. I am reflecting on the influences that culture and the leadership environment have on the effectiveness of housekeeping and ways to measure the amount of care. If we were to get a chainsaw and cut open the culture of a working environment, how could we determine the historical layers of caring about safety?


Dendrology is the study of trees from an academic perspective. A person who applies these skills would be a dendrologist, whereas an arborist would be more focused on the tree's growth and health. The application of dendrochronology would encompass the specific method of counting the tree rings to determine the exact year that they formed and the impact that the environment had on the tree's growth in that year.


If we were to break the word down, dendron is Greek for trees and khronos means time. An expert in dendrochronology can look at the tree rings and determine things like an atypical cold winter, a long dry spell, or an extremely wet spring. This strategy can reveal historical environmental events that impacted the health and growth of the tree. We have all seen these rings and become encapsulated by their unique layering, widths, and discolorations. It is somewhat of a time capsule that locks a historical timeline of the tree's environment with extreme accuracy.

A dendrologist studies trees from an academic perspective while an arborist works with living trees, specializing in their growth and care. Both have important roles to play when it comes to tree care, but it's important to understand the differences between them if you are looking for help for your trees. - LTRC

Many of us have walked through hundreds of heavy manufacturing facilities in our careers. Within each of these experiences, you can look at the walls, the infrastructure, and the housekeeping to interpret the intensity that the leadership team historically has had on safety. As you walk through a facility, you get an understanding of the habits the culture encompasses and the aptitude of the leadership influence. You may walk away from these visits impressed with benchmarkable 5S practices. Conversely, you may see layers of grease, trash, or disorderliness that reflect the historical aspects of temporary repairs or neglect. You can apply the same aspects of dendrochronology to the working environment with the layers of housekeeping. It is from this evaluation that you can determine if the culture gives a damn about safety.


Google tells us that katharo is the Greek word for clean. Therefore, the science of determining if a department gives a damn about safety is the katharoschronology. We require a clean environment to promote the desired safety culture to then transmit this level of excellence into other areas of the business. Therefore to understand the desire to be safe, a katharologist would be an individual with a keen ability to walk through a facility and see safety strategies as layers that underwrite the impacts of the leadership and the culture on safety.


As a katharologist, you would have the skill set to see temporary repairs, bad habits, and unthwarted approaches to safety. You can see how the environment impacts the growth of the organization. You embody the ability to take action on housekeeping as a leading indicator by knowing its impact on safety. As a katharologist, you understand that housekeeping is a leading indicator of the reported lagging indicators. As a katharologist, you know what it takes to give a damn about safety.

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