I’m sure many will recognise this famous line from Michael Caine in the Italian Job, where a controlled explosion went slightly wrong. In the event the gang were put in jeopardy and it created an anxious and funny scene in the film.
However in real life where an explosion in the workplace occurs, it’s not usually controlled or expected and the outcome is usually catastrophic. The problem is most businesses fail to consider the risks in the first place and therefore don’t have the appropriate controls in place. Even when the potential is understood we still see too many businesses failing to address the consequences and relying on the fact that it hasn’t gone wrong yet. A regular line we hear is that we have been doing this for 15 or 20 years and so far all has been well; or should it say so far we have been lucky!
If the explosion in the Italian job had gone to plan all would have ended well for the gang; but it didn’t. There lies the morale of the story, which is one day if it goes badly wrong there is no second chance and lives are often lost and businesses ruined by something that could and should have been controlled.
A recent meeting with a senior management team who had been instructed to have an assessment competed had the business owner raising the concern that our assessment would likely lead to them needing to spend a significant chunk of money! The fact is he was right and they do need to make some important changes to the way they operate; however the short term pain will definitely result in long term gains and avoid having to say ‘if only’.
The truth is you don’t get second chances where flammable substances, gases and even dusts are involved. One day a release mixed with the air around us might meet a source of ignition and when it does, you can only hope that no one is in the way; otherwise the impact is likely to be devastating. However if you properly look at the risks then the good news is that it is possible to prevent this happening.