As you know we can never eradicate human error and the accidents they cause. Why? Because we are human. There are things in our human nature that work against us doing the right thing for safety.
So what are these five behavioural traps and how were they identified?
After analysing hundreds of incident reports over 23 years in several different industries I realised something was missing. Asking why intelligent, competent, experienced and well-intentioned people did the wrong thing – EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW IT WAS WRONG
The result of those years of informal research showed that there were five – yes just five “traps” working against behaving safely.
Lack of awareness
Many accidents happen because people just do not see, hear or smell something. If an engine has not been properly maintained it could overheat and perhaps cause a fire. However, if someone smells or hears that things are not right, the engine can be shut down before the fire starts.
Unintentional, unreasonable pressure
Injured parties often complain – “I had pressure from my supervision” or, ”My mates were putting pressure on me”. When asked what they meant by “pressure”, here is what they said (there are others – this is just a sample):
- Not getting enough instruction or explanation about the job;
- Shouting and swearing when the job went wrong or was not progressing fast enough;
- Body language, including facial expression, indicating displeasure/upset;
- Mocking, belittling and insulting, when one asks a question and when expressing concern about safety
The fear factor
Safety Briefings 1, 2 and 3 have discussed this in detail.
Lack of concentration
It stands to reason that if a person, for some reason, is not concentrating fully on the job he/she is doing, the chance of an accident is increased. Most of us know that lack of concentration can be caused
WRONGLY diminishing the risk
Many people are not aware (not conscious) that they are playing a trick in their minds to make the risk smaller than it is. You can tell when people may be diminishing the risk when they use phrases such as:
“It’s only a short journey.” “It’s just a small valve.” “We’ll be extra careful.” “I will plan better next time.” “It will only take a few minutes.”
No matter how excellent the safety systems and tools in place ( and they should be excellent) unless you help people deal with the five behavioural traps we are not getting to the real root causes. In the Safety Briefings I will share with you some simple but powerful ways to help people overcome the five traps.
As always your feedback is very welcome. Any topics you’d like covered in future Safety Briefings?