Do the Right Thing, It’s Common Sense
Wouldn’t it be easy and simple if risk was black and white and safety was as easy as ‘check your gut’ (AIHS BoK) and ‘do the right thing’ (Just Culture). Unfortunately, it’s not and talking about ‘common sense’ and other such useless language helps no one.
Duncan Watts book Everything is Obvious, Once You Know the Answer: How Common Sense Fails (2011) puts to bed the many myths that float about the safety industry. ‘Make Safety a Habit’ really? You mean you advocate people not thinking about safety?
Surely the principle message for tackling risk should be: if you have the time, step back, weigh the options and act. Otherwise, trial and error, hit n miss, common sense, do the right thing, check your gut and Rafferty’s Rules rule. Or, maybe those heuristics really do keep you safe.
In Australia the idea of Rafferty’s Rules means no rules, just use common sense, habit or whatever. I first learned about Rafferty’s Rules when I was a kid playing marbles in the schoolyard. I soon discovered that common sense and Raffety’s Rules were sayings to hand over power to the dictator of those rules. Under Rafferty’s Rules you lose all your marbles to common sense and that kid common sense was a big thug. I checked my gut and decided he could have the marbles as opposed to my broken nose.
But risk isn’t a game of marbles and common sense doesn’t exist. Every time we run a training program or induction we are contradicting the idea that such things exists.
Then there is ‘do the right thing’ advocated by some in Just Culture. What is ‘do the right thing’? Well, it’s common sense. Check you’re gut, you’ll know. It’s obvious, ask Rafferty. Uh, if I have to ask Raffety then it can’t be common sense. And what if my gut feeling is different than yours? Confused? You should be. Isn’t such confusion obvious?