ACTOR + ACTION + TIME = EVENT
A weird and wacky hypothesis from Doug Wakefield CPMSIA RSP(Aust.) – SSHE analyst & trainer at Safe Measure Pty. Ltd. – www.safemeasure.com.au
You can also download Doug’s FREE OHS Manual Template HERE
This formula (Actor + Action + Time = Event) is a philosophical, theoretical, proposal for the safety community’s consideration – probably even broader.
I have discussed the formula with various associates and so far have no variables thrown at me that alter the formula, so see what you think.
I think this theory is like the discovery of the atom, in that it provides the essential ‘stepping stone’ from whence all events spring. (Yes, I do acknowledge atoms have since been ‘split’ into smaller particles and what what-not, and once you read down, you will note how this formula can be used in all the various sub-sets likely to open in a decent drill-down – yea, unto Time itself – Tempus edax rerum – ‘time devours all’)
The formula (I believe) empirically states that within our temporal universe, for any ‘Event’ to occur, there must be the three – and three only – essentials of Actor, Action and Time. No more, no less. (Mind you, each of the essentials is a huge ‘catch-all’, and, as stated above, in drilling down, we discover more sub-sets of A+A+T=E.)
In the simplest of terms, I define each of the elements as:
This includes EVERYTHING, whether animate or inanimate, – ie anything you can put a name to – in this temporal universe. It all plays its part…INCLUDING ENERGY!
No matter how miniscule, everything is doing something – even if it is simply ‘be-ing’’. (Certainly everything is in a state of decay without an input of energy.)
All actors & actions are bounded by Time.
The outcome(s) – in the moment of the here-and-now of Time – arising from the Action(s) of the Actor(s).
Why am I proposing this concept?
This came about through my attempts to reduce things to their ‘seed’ level – to get to the nub from where things grow. Sort of like the proverbs of old which still hold true today (‘A stitch in time saves nine’; ‘Too many cooks will spoil the broth’; ‘You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink’, and so on).
By bringing an investigation (or an inspection or audit for that matter) to this ‘seed’ level, we can expand from there, and get closer and closer to ‘the truth’. (Especially using the old Conan Doyle character Sherlock Holmes’ statement: ‘When we eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.’)
When using what I call ‘The Investigator’s Rhyme’ of “How and Why and Where and When, And Who and What and back again” (to be done three times to ensure no oversights), on each of the elements of People, Parts, Position and Power (the ‘4 P’s’*) to capture all things, great and small – and perhaps indifferent – we allow ourselves to create manageable bite-sized chunks for scrutiny in our investigation/inspection/audit.
I will use the following example of how this ‘drill down’ package might be applied.
“Around 2 p.m., a strong Northerly wind blew a ceramic tile off a roof. The tile was smashed when it fell the footpath below, narrowly missing a couple passing-by. Apart from clean-up and replacement of another tile on the roof, no-one was hurt.”
In simple terms we might firstly consider these things from the statement:
Ceramic tile(s); (Two, since it one tile came off, and later it was replaced);
Wind: Blowing strongly from North; applied lifting pressure to roof tiles;
Ceramic tile: Came loose from roof (force of wind – and perhaps direction of force from North will need consideration); Crashed to footpath (attraction of gravity); A new tile was later repositioned and fixed to Roof.
Roof: Above footpath area; Allowed release of tile (will need more consideration of ‘why’); Later repairs/replacement of tile;
Footpath: Laid beneath and somewhere in range of falling tile; Cleaned-up after event;
Couple: Walking along footpath;
Approximately 2 p.m., Event occurred.
Tile hits footpath narrowly missing a passing couple (yes, we do have other ‘events’, but this is the event that has initiated our enquiry)..
In our second level we might start to note some things implied in the initial statement.
Some ‘implied’ actors from the first reading:
Force holding tile onto roof (eg underside wire)
Sound – or lack thereof. May or may not be part of the grand scheme, but still note it at this stage.
Who was involved with original roof work?
Who did the repairs? (Might not be useful for our later summation, but at this stage, note it down.)
Gravity: it’s ‘there’;
Holding force on the tile: was there any? (Had a restraining underside wire been cut);
Sound: presumably some sound, but did anyone hear? Does it matter? Still note at this stage.
Did the person who did the original work work correctly?
Ditto re the person making repairs.
Implied is that within a passage of time before the initiating event, some things have occurred that allowed for the strengthening of wind, and the weakening of support and dislodging of the tile; also passage of couple to the point of near-hit.
1300hrs Wind springs-up from the North.
1310hrs Wind begins to increase in strength.
1340hrs Wind strengthens and gusts begin lifting of tile, with possible consequent weakening of fixing ties. (‘Possible’ because we might later discover a tradesperson has been aloft in the roof space and cut a tie-wire to slide the tile back and not re-tied it.)
1359hrs Couple have begun walking in vicinity beneath roof where tile is being dislodged.
1400hrs After the passage of time, the wind appears to have dislodged tile, which is swept from roof by wind and under the force of gravity, the tile crashes to footpath and shatters.
In further ‘drill-down’, we would look at each element to the investigation to see whether time had any effect on that element, and what the effect might have been within the time-frame.
By now, you should be getting a grasp as to how expansive our investigation becomes – there is a lot that grows form the seed, and each new step along the path requires re-application of the formula.
I certainly do not see my proposed formula as being in conflict with any extant inspection/ investigation/audit tool, but as an easy-to-use, add-on can-opener to your utility belt… and all in the interest of assisting folk to:
ENJOY THIS LIFE!!!
*NOTE THERE IS NO CONFLICT BETWEEN MY ‘4P’s & THE ‘7Ps’ OUTLINED WITHIN THOSE EXPANDED UPON BY TERRY FLANDERS FSIA RSP(AUST.) IN HIS TRADEMARKED ‘RADAR’ SYSTEM: ‘4’ OR ‘7’ MY HYPOTHESIS STANDS (WELL, UNTIL YOU SHOOT IT DOWN IN FLAMES, OF COURSE!!!