Safety in Numbers
With all the talk about safety and zero we would have to wonder how ZERO will ever be achieved. Recently there was a job that had about 30 first aid cases. (These ranged from a minor scratch to a sprained wrist.) What the company decided was that there had not been enough hazards reported to justify the numbers game. After all 60 hazards reported and 30 incidents put the statistics at about 50% or 2 to 1 ratio. There is no way this could look good on paper. They decided that there was only one way to fix this and that was to go on a hazard hunt so we could record them and bring the numbers down. Each and every worker was required from that day forward to find and fix 1 hazard a day. Well everyone can guess at that point going forward there were hazards reported for possible tripping on ear plugs, slipping on loose gravel, signs on doors to say open slowly to name a couple.
One can only imagine the hazard cards that come in when 300 people go out to find and record a hazard. There was never one card that came in that mentioned people. If people do not interact with something can there really be a hazard? So now we have about 3800 hazards that bring us close to 0.8% that certainly looks a lot better when trying to get the client to understand the numbers. Some of the other options that were used on the same job were the bullying and threatening of workers to get them to comply. They also used people as the scapegoat to show the client where the problem was. After all there should never be an injury on a job and if there is who is to blame?
As Doctor Rob Long pointed out in one of his books that Risk Makes Sense.
How could a job ever be done without the taking of a risk? Like changing a tire on a vehicle there is always a risk. Explaining what hot is to a toddler will never be understood until they touch something and we can tell them that it is hot.
We do not live in a perfect world and we should never think that we do. Humans are fallible and mistakes will happen. We need to embrace the risk of being human and maybe strive for progress not for perfection. Safety people on jobs will come and go no one person can be blamed for a statistical number. Throwing safety people under the bus for the opportunity to try and make a company look good should never happen. As long as they think ZERO can become a reality this practice will continue on for some time to come.