How often does your company create conversation about risk tolerance? This topic should not be overlooked, as in life, different personality types have different levels of risk. This doesn't only apply to the safety field. It can be applied to career choices, finances, and relationships. We all have different levels of risks we are willing to take for certain rewards.
In safety, we all have taken chances in one form or another. Sometimes we take chances out of convenience: “I don’t want to make a trip to the gang box again”. Sometimes we take chances when we are in a hurry: “let’s just hurry up and get this done, we don’t have time”. Sometimes we weigh the possibility or likelihood that we could get hurt and justify our risk: “we’ve always done it that way and I’ve never gotten hurt”.
It all starts out when we are younger and haven’t experienced the downside of getting hurt.
Last weekend, my son grabbed the blower and was getting ready to blow the yard and driveway. I saw him filling the blower with gas and then I watched him start it up. I asked him “what are you forgetting?” He knew right away that he didn’t have his safety glasses on. So let me ask you, why did he fail to wear the glasses until I reminded him. Was he having troubles locating the glasses or was he too lazy to go get them? Was he in a hurry? Was he justifying the risk because he hasn’t been injured yet? Maybe all of these reasons had something to do with his risk tolerance.
As we gain experience and see how injuries affect our people, our tolerance for risk reduces. Think about these following scenarios:
People who have been in a serious car accident and more likely to wear their seatbelts.
People who have fallen are more likely to tie off.
People who have been struck by a vehicle or a piece of equipment are more likely to get eye contact and stay to the proper access paths.
People who have cut themselves with a knife, are more likely follow safe cutting practices.
Let’s pool our experience and lower our tolerance for risk. The safest way is usually the best way to accomplish things. Don’t justify risks, understand them and do the right thing. Identify them in the JHA and then make sure they are communicated properly. Make sure your workers are trained properly.
Remember the goal, keep all of your workers safe.