Tag Archives: risks

Danger in The Guise of Safety, Today

In his seminal book The Limits of Safety, Scott D. Sagan contrasted two schools of thought to assess the safety performance of the United States nuclear weapon system during the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis: High reliability theory and complexity theory. One of the basic tenets regarding high reliability organizations is that they are able and willing to learn from events. Sagan, however, found that oftentimes, the U.S. military failed to learn from the incidents they … Continue Reading ››

Danger was the safest thing in the world if you went about it right

Stunt pilotThis seemingly paradoxical statement was penned by Annie Dillard. She isn’t a safety professional nor a line manager steeped in safety experiences. Annie is a writer who in her book The Writing Life became fascinated by a stunt pilot, Dave Rahm. "The air show announcer hushed. He had been squawking all day, and now he quit. The crowd stilled. Even the children watched dumbstruck as the slow, black biplane buzzed its way around the air. Rahm made … Continue Reading ››

Unplugging from The Matrix: the pattern of a brave new world

Matrix Pattern WorldThe Risk Matrix is everywhere. In every procedure about risk management, in JSEA and HAZOP documents and on Start cards. The only way, apparently, in which risk is able to be identified at all levels in an organisation is to use the risk matrix to do it. The world is very complex, and the future nigh unknowable. So, I use The Matrix to simplify how I make a decision, so that I'm able to make a … Continue Reading ››

Stop start cards

IMG_2658A mechanic once burnt his hand so badly he had to seek hospital care. While at the hospital, two managers from his workplace showed up. They wanted to find out if he had completed a ‘start card’. Fortunately, he had filled one out so all was good. As he retold me the event, it was clear that their request had upset him. The managers had been interested in the paperwork, and not the state of his hand. Or … Continue Reading ››

Paper tigers

file0001384040598I am constantly amused and perturbed by the unintentional irony that many safety professionals surround themselves with when discussing issues of our profession and the paradoxes they create. So much so that I decided to do a little social experiment of my own. Certainly not on the scale of Facebook but interesting none the less. I had the opportunity to interview a number of candidates for senior safety roles and decided that I would base my questions … Continue Reading ››

Risky empathy

if you want to understand riskI saw this poster in an airport some time ago. It is an advert for an insurance company and shows a person in a helicopter with a note, "One thing, if you want to understand risk, you need to get out from behind your desk".  How connected are safety specialists with operational staff and the operational environment, where the day-to-day safety is created, to understand the operational world? How much of our … Continue Reading ››

Two sides to every control

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been reading a thought-provoking book, Adapt (Why success always starts with failure) by Tim Harford.  While it isn't a book on safety there is much to learn from Tim.  He argues that today's challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinion.  The world has become far too unpredictable, and profoundly complex.  Tim argues that instead we must learn to adapt. He uses many real life events, strategies and organisations to illustrate his … Continue Reading ››

Misguided hazard hunts

Handstands, cartwheels, somersaults, and running on bitumen have recently been banned in a number of Australian schools. Obviously, this is done not because schools fear litigation should something go wrong, but because ‘they care about the kids’ safety’... Also, some schools now have risk registers for all their activities. Painting is apparently a “medium risk”, for which teachers should consider having the consent of primary caregivers. Reading about this made me think of when … Continue Reading ››