Security Is No Accident


By Phil La Duke

Let me begin by saying that the title is trite, and sounds like a slogan, I have to say I believed of rephrasing it but ultimately decided that even so considerably it made me look like I was attempting to be clever or cute that was not my intent. It pains me to know that it numerous workplaces there are probably signs with this slogan.

I don’t imply it as a slogan, I imply it as a get in touch with to action. Too numerous of us think of safety as this passive event.  Absolutely nothing occurred and consequently we’re protected.  We shift from behaviors to culture to risk to whatever cockamamie notion is slowly percolating in the thoughts of some PhD who has by no means done an sincere day’s operate in his life. I will confess that this post grew out, to some degree, of my post Zero Injuries Are Nothing to Celebrate, exactly where my principle point was that, although it’s excellent that nobody died, what did you do to stop it.  What one thing, or several items did you do that was the proximate lead to that no one died? Scarce handful of had answers so they rather focused on my heresy that a celebration of a excellent safety record was soft-headed.

So what can we do to act with goal to make the workplace safer? I get criticized a lot for only pointing out what’s wrong without providing options to that I say: a) I raise these points due to the fact they require to be raised, b) nobody else seems to be raising them, and c) I’m not your paid consultant so I am beneath no obligation to give you free suggestions, but that is just me acquiring cranky.  The truth is, there is not 1 accurate path to security.  Somehow (and I have my characteristically powerful opinions as to specifically how, but that is for one more report) “Safety” has turn out to be a quasi-religion with the cult of behavior, or the cult of Gellar, or the cult of…well you get my point.  I’m not going to get into a debate more than regardless of whether or not there is one particular true religion, but I will say that, obtaining worked across a lot of industries that safety implies very diverse factors based on your sector, your location, and your size.

If you operate in a higher-consequence market like oil and gas—where a single slip up can have catastrophic results—you have a tendency to have a really diverse view of what’s safe and for that reason a a lot decrease tolerance for danger than say a shoe retailer. So for me, or anyone else, to provide universally applicable recommendations is irresponsible to the extreme. But I will say this: we have to recognize how what we do is affecting the threat of a particular person being hurt by hazards in our workplaces.

Take slips, trips, and falls for example. Not a huge concern for a chemical firm whose greatest threat to worker and public security is lethal chemicals shooting a death cloud more than the surrounding community, but a massive concern for folks operating at heights or around sharp components or bio hazards.  So what YOU feel may well not be a big deal (and you are right) could be a large deal for an individual else.

Security as Superstitious Nonsense

We do so much in security, from awareness campaigns to Job Security Evaluation (and every single day some genius comes up with some thing else for us to do) that we drop sight of the essential components of safety we can not separate the nice to haves from the absolute need to haves. Let’s take an easy instance: A worker ascends a step ladder 15 feet.  We have two probabilities to worry about 1) the probability that he will fall and 2) the probability that if he falls he will be killed (or seriously injured but for our instance let’s just say killed) is 98% (I do not believe in absolute certainties) so let’s now operate by way of how we reduced that threat from 98% to as close to % (once again I don’t believe in absolutes) as is practicable (don’t mistake this for sensible). Now bear with me here as I perform the issue backwards.  If we have the worker tie off how significantly does that decrease the danger? To answer that we would have to know the failure rate of all the fall protection components, but for our purposes let’s say it cuts it down to 20% can we reside with a 20% chance that the worker may well bang his head, have a lanyard break, or have some other unforeseen hazard come into play? Possibly not, so we add…a children’s poster contest to remind him not to die? A pizza celebration if he does not fall?

No in our case we would probable make a decision that a ladder is the wrong tool for the job and use a man lift. Let’s say this reduces the probabilities of him falling to his death to 2%. Obviously all my percentages are WAY as well high, but the point remains we require to know, at a minimum, if what we are undertaking is causing security.

We have to quit concentrating on stopping injuries and focus on causing security. Let us in no way overlook that almost everything we do should have a direct consequence of causing security. Sure awareness campaigns may have some effect on workplace security, but is this actually where you ought to be spending your time and money? In environments where you have higher turnover of workers who have a tendency to have a restricted awareness of the dangers about them, then it might properly be, but if you are in a factory where people do repetitive jobs that cause their minds to wander or exactly where they are much more probably to be injured by a fatigue-induced error it probably isn’t.

The most tough job in safety is that there is not a magic formula for acquiring items right. We have to consider.  We have to generate solutions that operate in OUR environments  and stop considering that any individual out there has it all figured out and all we require do is to copy their remedy and we will be alright.  This is what tends to make it so hard for individuals to move from a single sector to yet another.  What is important in mining may possibly be insignificant in retail.  What’s worse is even inside our personal business what works for our completion could not operate for us at all.  It’s as well undesirable truly, due to the fact my expertise as a particular person who assists companies build security management systems and infrastructures I’ve noticed some pretty cool things that are completely unworkable in other industries, geographic regions, or web sites.

Unfortunately for most of us, we are barraged by folks telling us the opposite that they have figured out the magic bullet and for the appropriate value they can sell us a resolution that operates for everyone like magic! I’ve reviled these folks as unethical snake-oil salesmen and some of them are indeed thieves.  But more of them believe what they’re saying, which makes them far more unsafe.   It is tempting to buy in to a philosophy that just requires you to turn off your brain and drink the Kool-Help, specifically if our boss has a big vat of it on his or her desk.

It is incumbent on us to make every single dollar spent on security count and if we are spending our time and money foolishly we could get someone killed. So once more, prior to you begin a new initiative, or even continue the things you’re carrying out, ask your self, “how does this cause security?”

Phil La Duke’s Blog

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