Skip to content
Controlling Risks With Resolve - Not Just Resolutions

Controlling Risks With Resolve - Not Just Resolutions

Comedian Dave Chappelle once said, "You know you must be doing something right if old people like you." That's because, more often than not, they've learnt to cut through the nonsense, and when it comes to controlling risk, you don't have room for nonsense, indecision, or waning enthusiasm. Controlling risks with resolve and controlling them with resolutions are two very different operations. They both start with good intentions, but only one gets it done! Today, we'll consider how to control risks with resolve.

Specifically, in this practical and timely article, we'll look at:

  • What is the resolve/resolution distinction?
  • Three strategies for controlling risk.
  • Are you Resolved?

What is the Resolve / Resolution Distinction?

The words' resolve' and 'resolutions' share a common root word; the Latin word "resolvere" means "to loosen or untangle." But these words have come to mean very different things in our culture.;

When we say, "Peter has resolve," we usually mean Peter has the virtue or character trait of stickability or grit. When we say, "Nasir has resolved to (fill in the blank)", we usually mean Nasir has made a decision he is very, very, very serious about; he will not be moved off the mission. He is resolved! There is nothing wishy-washy about resolve. Would you agree?

But we tend to think differently when we hear about resolutions, especially New Year's resolutions. New Year's resolutions tend to go in one year and out the other (pun intended). Resolutions like losing weight, budgeting better, getting to bed earlier, exercising and procrastinating less are common (though that last one often gets put off till later). When we hear or even make resolutions, a quiet inner voice says, "We'll see," and often an inbuilt pre-arranged grace for failure. Resolutions are often wishy-washy.

Resolve is different. To control risks with 'resolve' means making a firm decision about your goals and determinations, AND you follow through… ALL year long.;

Three Strategies for Controlling Risk

We'll use a three-focus approach. Combined, they become a profoundly effective risk control formula - and not just for 2024. They are an investment for the future. Our systems:

  1. Are supported into your future (with some very reasonable exceptions),;
  2. Respond well to the dynamics of the years, and;
  3. Are upgradable as required.;

Our three focus areas will empower you to:

  1. Demonstrate safety-oriented leadership,
  2. Invest in a well-designed safety management systems, and
  3. Resolve to stay the course, for the long term, no matter what.

Strategy 1: Controlling Risk Through Safety-Oriented Leadership

Demonstrative leadership begins with the first step. For example, when you and your team arrive on site, the buck-hoist is out of action, and you take steps to resolve the problem by using the steps. Your shrug and, "Okay, where are the steps?" get the ball moving. Controlling risks also requires observable and proactive action. To paraphrase what has been wisely and famously said, "No one plugs in a floodlight and then puts it in a box. Instead they secure it where its light can be seen."

You want your actions to be on show because when workers see management prioritising safety, there is a flow-on effect. Studies have shown that safety-oriented leadership improves safety outcomes. Your actions will typically lead to workers:

  1. Perceiving a strong safety climate exists, and most people submit to an established norm.
  2. Paying more attention to your communication and reinforcements.
  3. Identifying your role modelling, and then following your lead.
  4. Appreciating and responding to your sincere expectations.
  5. Respecting, valuing and using your safety resources.

If those outcomes seem ridiculous, the four sources I referenced are shown and linked in the footer, and two studies were conducted in construction settings. Check the references to go deeper [footnotes 1-4].

Your actions as a workplace leader do make a difference!

Strategy 2: Controlling Risk Through Your Safety Management System

A comprehensive and effective Safety Management System is also essential. It will help you:

  1. Identify hazards and risks using a structured framework. This enables you to be proactive and be seen to be proactive. Moreover, very few people can consistently identify, assess or reduce risk without a system. Systems help you do what you would otherwise forget to do.
  2. Implement control measures to control risk. Whether you choose engineering, administrative, or PPE controls, your system will help you make better decisions and design, communicate and implement your choices effectively.
  3. Train and educate your crew so they don't merely 'do safety', but also so they understand the 'why' and other variables at play in a situation. Your safety training programs, workshops and safety briefings can all be empowered by the resources within your system. Also, by enhancing awareness and knowledge, your workers can better recognise risks and appropriate procedures and see your resolve to maintain the standard and zeal all year round.
  4. Improve your communication and reporting between workers, supervisors, and management. Incident reporting mechanisms are built in to capture near misses, accidents, and other safety-related incidents, enabling you to identify trends and control risk in a timely manner.
  5. Implement all-year continuous improvement using the feedback and safety performance indicators provided. Both those that are required by regulation and good sense are included. This makes regular audits, inspections, reviews and responses even easier.
  6. Comply with legal and regulatory standards. Not only can you be confident you have the boxes ticked, but you'll also know we'll help you stay updated with changes. Compliance enables you to minimise your legal, financial, and reputational equity.
  7. Document your procedures and policies efficiently and effectively, ensuring consistency and clarity in your risk control practices. These resources provide step-by-step instructions, reduce the likelihood of errors and improve your risk management consistency.

By implementing one of our comprehensive OH&S ISO 45001 or WHS AS/NZS 4801 Management Systems, you can implement year-long resolve and effectiveness in your risk control strategies. Of course you will still need to tailor and apply the system to the needs and characteristics of your business, but we've certainly removed a thousand hours of pain and frustration with every system.

If you are unsure which applies to you, perhaps the starter article introducing both systems will be an excellent place to start - or call us (1800 304 336). Alternatively, you can immediately click through to see the OH&S ISO 45001 or WHS AS/NZS 4801 Safety Management Systems.

Both systems and all our resources are easy to access, simple to purchase, profoundly affordable, and easy to prepare and use. They are also fully backed by email and phone support.;;

Strategy 3: Controlling Risk Through Resolving to Stay the Course

It can be challenging to ensure worker consistency in following safety procedures. Here are seven suggestions that can help promote a culture of adherence to safety protocols:

  • Communicate continuously and reinforce the message.
  • Schedule 'spontaneous' inspections into your calendar without a noticeable pattern. Plan to be consistent in your spontaneity.;
  • Don't allow safety meetings, toolbox talks, and refresher training sessions to be taken lightly by anyone - including you.
  • Lead by example: do as you want it done.
  • Provide reinforcing feedback all year round.
  • Establish clear accountability and consequences (from verbal and written warnings to suspensions or firing.;
  • Engage your workers so they actively participate and own the risk control process. Seek their input, recognise and reward exemplary safe behaviours.

By implementing these suggestions, you can foster a collective resolve. !

A Special Word on Expectations, Reality and Honesty;

We should also clarify something about people and the nonsense we sometimes carry on with. Specifically, let's talk about realistic expectations and the role of honesty in getting it done.;

Firstly, let's be realistic about our workers. The ability to persevere with resolve, overcome, and continue to do so are not innate traits; they are learned. Character virtues are not inborn. Sure, some get a personality headstart, and you might get lucky and secure some workers who were raised well and have experienced more than 'easy-as-she-goes' living, but these people are rare. You may need to train them in skills that their parents and culture should have already done. It sucks; it isn't right, but it is reality. Casual and easy living makes casual and easy-going workers. This is our current reality.

Also, there is value in being honest about what it means to be human. When you are honest about human nature and the challenges we all face, you also give others permission to be honest and wrestle with their humanity.;

Have you ever been around someone who was honest about shortcomings or the obstacles they faced? If yes, did it challenge and free you to be honest too?

Simple statements can be powerful and freeing. For example:

"I get that it's easy to forget this procedure. We all get tired, distracted, or hyper-focused elsewhere, and we can forget these safety controls. Anyone can. I have too. But it isn't good enough! So here's what we can do to counter that, and I'm open to your suggestions."

If you haven't tried this before, give it a go. You might be amazed at what happens.;

Are you Resolved? Is Controlling Risk Your Sustainable 2024 Priority?

Controlling risks with resolve - not just resolutions - is about creating habits and systems of resilience. We've shown that safety-oriented leadership, well-designed systems and a resolve to stay the course for the long term will help control risk. Remembering that 'resolve' signifies a determined mindset, your resolve will result in something visible, something tangible and something life-saving.

You significantly impact construction workers' and their response to safety practices. Safety happens when you foster safer work environments, empower safer work practices, and act in a way that demonstrates year-round resolve, not just seasonal resolution.;

Your decisions and leadership matters, so please accept this encouragement to:

  1. Prioritise, model and promote a strong safety climate,
  2. Invest in professional systems, and
  3. Implement them in a way that communicates and supports resilience and 'stickability'.

The difference between controlling risk with resolve rather than resolutions lies in your leadership, your systems and your demonstrated resolve.;;

Now, you might resolve for 2024 to achieve the goals you set out to achieve in 2023, because you didn't attain them in 2022 - if you get my meaning. That's okay. This is the upside to new years, new seasons, new months, new days and even new hours and minutes. They offer new beginnings and fresh starts. This day, this hour, this minute - even this moment, can be the one you resolve to get it done!

To help make this happen, call 1800 304 336 for prompt and professional counsel on products and solutions. We encourage the call because it's only when we talk that you benefit from our years of experience and thousands of conversations. Then, we can best identify what you need (and what you don't). The strategies and resources we discussed today can contribute to a great start in 2024 and a great finish.


[1] Gurses, A. P., Murphy, G. C., & Kim, G. (2009). "Exploring the link between safety climate and safety performance in construction firms." Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 135(8), 816-824. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.

[2] Hinze, J., Gouw, G. J., & Gibb, A. G. F. (2005). "The effect of leadership on safety climate in construction." Safety Science, 43(6), 393-404.

[3] Clarke, S. (2006). "The relationship between safety climate and safety performance: A meta-analytic review." Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 11(4), 315-327. Also at;

[4] Lingard, H., & Rowlinson, S. (2005). "Occupational health and safety in construction project management." Routledge.

Previous article You Need a Better SWMS Template Than Safe Work Australia Demands. Here’s Why!
Next article Industrial Manslaughter, Construction Safety and You