“Don’t bother to write an accident report…”

When a manager at the chemical plant had an incident occur on the shift, Trevor Kletz remarked afterwards that he wanted to tell him, “Don’t bother to write an accident report, I’ll send you one from my files!”

Why? Because organizations do not learn.

People learn (and forget).

As a believer in the principle of engineering out the hazard, Kletz bought a single-story house with a level driveway to avoid the inherent danger of stairs and associated fall hazard. He knew, from his work in process safety, that no matter how vigilant people are with their environments, if the danger exists the negative consequences eventually occur. No stairs, in a house he would live until age 90, equated to less negative risk.

Are you writing safety investigation reports that you’ve written before? Are you writing the report in your head as you respond to the incident? Are you using copy/paste to complete the investigation?

If you nodded your head, you’ve found the wall that many EHS pros beat their heads on.

What are your options? Here are a few tips from the author of “The Obstacle is the Way” (Ryan Holiday).

-What’s Right is What Works– Stop expecting perfection. What hazard control can you control and implement at your level? Not perfect? It’s OK.

-Follow the Process– Got a big problem? Break it down into tiny, bite-size pieces. Then do the first thing.

-Practice Persistence– Hard things are hard. It’s OK (again). But it’s not OK to quit.

-Approach with an eye for opportunity– Maybe now’s not the time. But will you be ready when it is? A new CEO, manager, budget, fiscal year, line of business…any of these changes could open up an opportunity for iteration (and your idea).

Check out Ryan’s book for many other ideas on overcoming obstacles in life.

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