Recently we have been assisting a business to undertake an investigation following what was a potentially serious incident. Using the our experience and looking at what occurred in an impartial and subjective way it has made us question just how do you account for when someone does something completely stupid?
Working in a health and safety role for many years has shown me on many an occasion just how stupid people can be; sometimes you just look at what they have done and ask but why would you do that. The problem is they often can’t answer why themselves.
Is it because the business has not trained them well enough, or because the business does not have the right procedures in place or because the risks hadn’t been identified in a risk assessment and therefore adequately controlled? If you take the approach that there is always a failure in the management system then you can argue for all of the above and add many other reasons too it.
However could it sometimes be because it comes down to being lazy and trying to take short cuts in what they are doing; rather than work the safe way? It is certainly something we have explored in the training we have been providing to businesses for some time now.
The HSE has suggested for many years that behavioural safety should be taken into account when a business completes its risk assessments. For some of the larger businesses we work with this has been considered and has helped to change the thinking of the workforce and therefore has taken away some of these issues.
However for many smaller to medium size businesses just keeping the day to day health and safety systems operating proves to be a challenge and finding the time and resources to consider safety behaviours is often a step too far. If only we all had a crystal ball how much easier would it be to keep our employees and business safe!
The problem is we don’t and perhaps we just have to accept that sometimes we can’t control everything the way we would like to. The important fact though is to learn from what goes wrong and use it in the business to be stronger in the future. As I remember an Olympic athlete telling me making a mistake once is acceptable but making the same mistake twice is not.