Choosing a Safety Consultant – A Defensive Decision?
A blast from the past – first published on this day in 2015
A new client complained the other day that they had engaged, with some confidence, a large National Safety Consulting Company to complete a traffic management plan. But, the consultant who turned up was a recent graduate who admitted that this was the first time they had done a traffic management plan! My client was assured by the company, when he agreed to the quote, that they were “experts in the field”.
Having once worked for a consulting firm I know how they will do all they can to secure a contract and then worry about how they will service it! – I know you will find that hard to believe???
This is a quandary faced by many and a colleague once drew the analogy of getting your car serviced – do you take it to the dealer with the big flash show room and expensive prices and probably have most of the work done by an Apprentice or, do you take it the old guy who has been a mechanic for 40+ years and works on his own, out of his shed and charges 1970’s prices or, do you go to individual specialists for each component ie suspension, gearbox, tyres, engine etc.
Most would choose the dealer (especially if they can afford it or someone else is paying!) – Gigerenzer, in “Risk Savvy” calls this “Defensive Decision Making” – choosing the safer option rather than the best one. For this very reason, the Medical profession may over prescribe, over treat and over refer from fear of being sued. Next time your Doctor recommends a treatment, ask him/her what they would advise a relative (ie someone who wont sue him). No risks, no errors, no creativity, no imagination, no innovation, no!
Gigerenzer links this with risk aversion and the anxiety of making errors. he says:
“If you work in middle management of a company then your life probably revolves around the fear of doing something wrong and being blamed for it…………..A system that makes no errors is not intelligent”
Traditional safety does not allow us to make errors but tells us the safest and least risky way that things must be done – this is not how we learn or progress –
I’d love some feedback from other about how they choose a safety consultant or even where defensive decision making hampers what you would like to do. Do you go with the risk savvy, experienced, sole trader or the multi national consulting firm where safety consultants are like a box of chocolates and the rates are double or more?
Leave you comments below and please provide name and contact details for anyone you would recommend.