Risky Business

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By Phil La Duke

We all take dangers, there’s a saying that when you’re driving, any person driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac. Okay, I don’t know if it qualifies as a saying, per se, but I’ve heard it stated. So even if it’s not a saying, I feel most of us believe it. In a way we’re hypocrites—we label the same behavior in roughly the same circumstance as either acceptable or not, largely based on regardless of whether or not the threat taken are by us or by other people.

I was talking to a colleague the other day on this very topic.  She asked me, “how do we get people to understand their inconsistency in danger tolerance?” She went on to explain that individuals have a tendency to have 1 level of tolerance for their personal behaviors (“I’m only going to be in there for a minute”), quite yet another for their loved ones (particularly their children “What’s wrong with you, didn’t you even consider…?”) and an even reduced tolerance for strangers. This dynamic isn’t hard to recognize it all centers about handle and outcomes.

Manage Versus Misplaced Confidence

“I do not have to put on a motorcycle helmet, because I am an outstanding driver and have so considerably handle over my bike.” I’ve heard this argument so many instances it makes me want to smack the individual in his helmetless head.  You can race motorcycles professionally, have the ideal crew that keep your bike in the best achievable condition, in quick you and your machine can be in an optimal position for tearing via curves at 130 mph.  But, and this is a point that many safety practitioners miss, controls (behavioral and engineering) have a tendency to be static, and we live in a dynamic world.  Tearing across the motorcycle racetrack at leading speed may possibly make the driver Feel in handle, but well…you can only control what you can handle.  For every element that you control, the condition of the motorcycle, the speed at which you enter the curves, how and when you adjust your weight there are almost certainly hundreds (if not thousands) of issues you can not manage, from the situation of the track to the weather to the behaviors and errors of other riders.  In quick, numerous skilled motorcyclists with extremely tuned machines go over the high side and end up dead.  Their controls had been static and applied to a dynamic world.

But let’s face it, couple of of us have finely tuned automobiles total totally free from defect and are professional drivers with skilled level capabilities.  In fact, most of us just don’t have a clue how out of manage we genuinely are.  Have you ever heard anybody say, “I drive better drunk, since I am more focused on my driving and alert to other hazards?” I have, and this is of course hogwash.  Scientific study following scientific study has shown that a seriously inebriated driver is far a lot more harmful than a single that is not (of course, it’s worth noting that the seriously inebriated driver who IS focused on his or her driving is possibly significantly less harmful than a single that is not, but that is a ridiculous argument.) We really feel much more confident taking private risks since we think that we can react faster, use common sense, and retain our personal physical abilities to mitigate the dangers of injuries when we are taking the risks.

You’ve almost certainly noticed that I’m speaking about us and not the people we are hired to shield (and whether or not that is really the case is a matter for yet another post) that is deliberate.  Until we understand our old function in people’s misunderstanding of risk we can not genuinely make any meaningful advances in security.

I’ve said it before and stated it once again that “safety” is the probability that we will not be harmed, and if that is correct than “risk” is the probability that we will be harmed.  Probability is much more than just the odds that anything will or will not take place, but that is an exceptional simplification of probability.  I am not a math teacher, nor am I an professional in probability, however there are some factors from probability that I do know, and I think these items apply to safety.  The first notion is what I call the clean dice concept. The clean dice idea assumes that if we had been to roll two standard six-sided dice that the odds would remain constant, that the dice are not loaded, that is, weighted in a way so as to unfairly return a offered result.  In pure probability calculation one particular identifies the quantity of equal number of possibilities (assuming clean dice) divided by the possibilities that meet defined situations.

If we use the most broadly recognized example, the tossing of a coin the formula would look like this: # of possibilities divided by the quantity of feasible outcomes.  In other words 1 divided by 2 = .5.  .five expressed as a percentage is 50% or there is a 50:50 shot at he flipped coin coming up heads.

The difficulty with safety is our role is to reduce the danger of injury and as well typically we lack enough data to make a truly informed (and responsible) selection. Let’s take, for example, driving 1 mile to the store, getting a carton of milk and returning unharmed. Nicely for starters in the actual globe we don’t have the luxury of “equally probably outcomes”.  Weather, traffic, road circumstances, driving speed, other quantity of clients at the gas station, and several other factors are all variables that we would need to take into account.  These variables combine to make it less likely that we will accomplish our aim.  Let’s appear at just a single of them: weather—it could be a assortment of temperatures, barometric pressures, types and volumes of precipitation.  It could be windy or calm, hailing or sunny, snowing or blowing a sandstorm.  There are in fact as well a lot of variables and they are not equal.

There’s also the problem of the condition of “safety” exactly where successfully practically nothing (or at extremely least nothing Poor) happens.  Why am I going on about this? Due to the fact too numerous of us think that the probability of not getting injured is significantly lower than it is.  We as security specialists artificially (and provided the millions of variables at play a single could say arbitrarily) assign danger and ominously and parentally warn folks of the threat of injury.

So safety isn’t really the probability of not acquiring injured, it’s the chance that our operate will not hurt us and even though it is impossible to predict the probability (nice try Heinrich) of a provided injury we can nevertheless be confident in telling folks that the more variability and risk they add to how they method the job the higher the opportunity that they will be injured.

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