We heard this the other day and started to think about how many times we’ve heard it said before. In truth, it’s too many to count and the unfortunate thing is that every one that says it is probably convinced that everything is alright. They’re probably the same people that still believe in Santa and the tooth fairy as well.
It’s not that they are gullible – more that they just choose to believe that all is alright in their workplace. Unfortunately, if you look at the HSE website you can see cases posted daily, where this illusion has been shattered for countless businesses across the country. In many cases, there is a failure to recognise the risks existed, and therefore basic controls are overlooked.
The client we referred to at the start uses highly flammable alcohol-based substances in their processes and we were asked to advise on what improvements may be needed. Two things were immediately wrong, one being a lack of localised extraction and the other was a failure to properly control ignition sources. From our experience, this is a potential recipe for disaster and this was quickly pointed out. It was then that the words “but it’s been like this without a problem for 20 years” was put to us. Our response was that it was more down to good luck than good design and that at some stage their luck could well run out.
It is a dangerous approach when dealing with hazardous substances to think if it doesn’t appear to be broken then why do we need to fix it. When it does go wrong the consequences are often life changing in so many ways – none which are likely to be positive.
We would urge you to go back to your risk assessments and take time to consider what the possible outcome might be if you leave controlling flammable substances to chance. If you don’t know the answers then maybe it’s time to seek specialist advice!