The Five Stages of PSM Grief

How many times have you as a PSM manager had to present to operators or management some new understanding of the requirements of PSM only to face gnashing of teeth and rending of garments? Individuals don’t like to change. Organizations REALLY don’t like to change. There is always some resistance. It occurred to me during a lecture by Randy Williams today that there is some similarity between the well-known stages of grief and what people go through when you introduce a new policy.

Presented for my friends at the Garden City Ammonia Program, a humorous take on the stages of policy acceptance we deal with from our coworkers:

  1. Denial – “There is no way I am doing that. We’ve been doing it this way for 25 years. They can’t be serious. You have to be misunderstanding the rules”
  2. Anger – “You’re an idiot. Why are you putting us through this – this will never work. I’ll tell those OSHA guys what for!”
  3. Bargaining – “Fine, I’ll just pencil whip it and ignore the policy as soon as you turn your back. My buddy at another place says they just ignore this so we should too. It’s not like we’ll ever get caught anyway.”
  4. Depression – “They’re serious! We’re actually going to have to follow this new policy. This is insane! We’ll never have time to get our work done now.”
  5. Acceptance – “You know. This isn’t as bad as I thought. On balance, it might actually be a little bit better than the old way.”

About Brian Chapin

PSM / RMP Compliance Consultant
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One Response to The Five Stages of PSM Grief

  1. Tom Walker says:

    Thank you for this humorous take on what a pain it is to deal with management on PSM/OSHA compliance issues. I had one manager tell me, ” Tom, I saw the PSM program you had at S____. You guys went top notch all the way. We decided to do the minimum”. I’d like to know where he got his idea of “minimum”. Another manager actually had the gall to tell me at a safety committee meeting that “company policy superseded code”. Every time I feel my blood pressure going up I’ll take a time out and read your “Five Stages of PSM Grief”. 🙂

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