The Safety Trifecta and Nothing Changes
In Australia, the notion of a ‘trifecta’ is well known. It’s a gambling term that explains the prediction and win on forecasting the first three places in a race and in the exact order. The chance of winning a trifecta depends on the number in the race. In an 8 horse race there are 336 possible permutations of predicting the exact 3 winners in each place, so the odds of winning a trifecta are very low. This is why bookies put such high odds on the bet and why the payout for a trifecta is so high. If you want to understand how trifectas work, there is plenty of information to explain (https://www.progroupracing.com.au/horse-racing-info/trifectas ). It is reported a few years ago that a punter at the Melbourne Cup won $800,000 on the trifecta on a modest bet. I’m sure Fortuna shone down on that punter that day, we all know how gambling and luck works.
Of course, when it comes to safety there is never talk about luck, fortune, bad luck or risk. It’s all about counting hazards and injuries. We even have nonsense about ‘predictive analytics’ (https://www.worley.com/our-thinking/improve-safety-with-predictive-analytics ) as if there is no luck or chance in risk. Yet, enter the gambling world or the insurance industry and you will hear none of such non-sense language. Both the gambling and insurance industries understand the nature of risk and they bet on it. That’s how they make money, that is their risk. If you want to find an industry with a high level of risk intelligence (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224903049_Risk_Intelligence_How_to_Live_with_Uncertainty ), it’s not just in safety but in gambling and insurance. The safety industry is the industry of reality and fallibility denial. Imagine taking the mantra of zero (perfection) to a bookie or an insurance broker and they would laugh you off the planet.
However, I’m about to contradict myself.
I often get calls and emails from people who attend safety conferences from all over the world and this one was from a safety conference in Europe last week. The SMS from Tom came in:
Tom: ‘I’m at an International Safety Conference in Amsterdam’
Rob: ‘That’s good, how is it going?
Tom: ‘You’ll never guess what dominated the conference thus far”
Rob: ‘Let me guess, zero harm, safety is a choice you make and all accidents are preventable’
Tom: ‘you guessed it right, hey you hit the trifecta, exactly in that order’
How sad this predictable industry that has no idea of real risk. How sad this industry speaking gobbledygook to an industry in denial of reality yet spruiking the language of ‘professional’. How sad this industry so contained in its delusional bubble that it only knows how to indoctrinate people with recycled propaganda.
The SMS conversation continued.
Tom asked: ‘and what else do you think was presented strongly?’
Rob: ‘the Bradley Curve’
Tom: ‘yes, you picked it’, ‘How did you know’
Rob: ‘I must be a psychic’. ‘Hey, I picked the ‘superfecta’.
Tom: ‘feel like going for 5 in a row’
Rob: ‘sure, do you know what they call that?
Tom: ‘I think they call that a ‘pentafecta’ or a ‘high-5’
Rob: OK, ‘I’ll have a go’. ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure’
Tom: ‘Bingo, you got the pentafecta’. ‘Hey, for a $1 bet you would have made a million’
Rob: ‘sadly no risk there’. ‘If only horse racing was as predictable as safety’.
Aneta Parker says
Dear Rob, i was at exactly the same conference and … the “Swiss Cheese Model” was also “running that race” 🙂
Rob Long says
Ah, I don’t even think they have a name for picking 7 exact horses in a row, its considered impossible. Maybe I should go out and but a lottery ticket, I obviously can’t lose. Then again, anyone who buys into all the brutalism of safety is the real loser.
What a shame this industry doesn’t know how to be professional. What a shame it would rather run a phantom race that doesn’t exist.
What a shame this industry would rather bet on things that don’t work when so much is available that does work.