Just Shut The Gates?
Another pondering from sharp end for discussion – by James Parkinson from www.safety-consultant.com.au
In the safety field I have learned to accept that not all things can be controlled the way some people would like to think they can be. In saying this, it brings me to thoughts on recent shark attacks on people here in Australia.
There have been many suggestions on what can be done to prevent this from happening. They have tried nets, some are suggesting more culling of the sharks and the community is divided on the options. Is this the answer to the problem? One would have to think that no it wouldn’t be that simple. Do we need to be reminded that when we get in the water of our great oceans that we are entering someone else’s home? So the easy solution would be to not go into the water – problem solved!
I was on a shut down recently and the preaching that went on about zero harm was mind blowing. When the doubts about being able to realistically achieve this were put on the table, one person said: “just close the gates and not let anyone in and only then zero harm could be met”. Well the talk that came from that was all but fun. That obviously wasn’t going to happen as the work needed to get done. Once again, one person mentioned that as humans are involved then there is always the possibility of failure.
The shut down went ahead as scheduled, and yes, there were a few minor incidents and one serious one. So, from the clients perspective, the shutdown was a failure.
The one person that had previously mentioned the human fallibility didn’t see it that way. To them, the shutdown was a success in that the incident rate was minimal.
Of course, as is the norm in big business, the blame had to be placed onto someone. Can someone really be blamed for human error? What about the long hours that are put in to get the shut down finished on time? Does this contribute to incidents through fatigue? If there are incidents caused by fatigue is it because the company needs to rush and get the plant operational and making and making money? If that is yes then are we putting profit before safety? I think we all know the answer to that.