On the side of the majority

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

Questioning our beliefs.

(My answers below…feel free to include your responses in the comments block)

1. What do the majority of EHS professionals believe to be true?
2. Which foundational belief(s) is incorrect or needs to change based on new information?
3. What do you disagree with in EHS?
4. What have you changed you mind about in the past 5 years?

1. Most EHS professionals believe risk and injury is best reduced by engineering the environment (hierarchy of controls). Many also believe taking action is better than not taking action.
2. Taking action can create a false sense of security (e.g we feel safer) and increase overall risk (e.g. driver’s education vs. graduated licensing; while both should reduce car crashes, only one succeeds.)
3. Heinrich’s Triangle, “Safety First”, safety education that segregates basic business and economics, a focus on human error as a root cause (for starters).
4. I used to believe assigning human factors during mishap investigations, and the data analysis of those human factors, would lead to new methods and/or more useful prioritization of hazard controls. That theory has not proved as successful as I once thought.

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2 thoughts on “On the side of the majority

  1. Josh,
    My thoughts on your questions:
    #1: That Safety is an organization’s primary focus. I’m borrowing from Mike Rowe here, but realistically making a profit (or mission accomplishment in the military) and answering to shareholders (or higher headquarters) are where the primary focus is.
    #2: That the answer, “It was a freak accident”, is acceptable. It’s the easy out. If we’re to reduce or eliminate recurrence, we need to do the appropriate amount of digging.
    #3: That we need one more program. I believe that teaching employees how to think and assess risk for themselves is far more valuable than simply giving them another set of procedures to follow.
    #4: That education and certification don’t matter as much as experience. Education, certification, and experience are complimentary and deserve equal billing. Note: that old way of thinking is why I’m playing catch up at 49.
    I appreciate the Mark Twain quote. Thanks for all you do!

    • Curt,
      Thanks for the thoughts! Totally agree with Mike Rowe. Your “freak accident” thought creeps into many investigations…too many. It seems to relieve all responsibility to prevent a repeat incident.
      Appreciate you!