Earlier this month, Corrie Pitzer (behavioral safety and strategic safety management expert & CEO and founder of SAFEmap International) released a video on Risk Awareness. In this video, Corrie talks about the 7 most dangerous ideas in safety. Find out what they are and how they can be addressed.

The 7 most dangerous ideas in safety: three topics

According to Corrie, these ideas cover three topics: Risk Paralysis, Risk Control and Safety Leadership. When looking at the common denominator in major accident scenarios around the world, he found that vulnerability was the keyword. Organizations thought they were safe, but things had already been going wrong for a longer period of time. They just did not, or could not, notice this, thus leaving them exposed.

The key word: vulnerability

One of the things that leave organizations vulnerable is the inability to respond adequately and timely to high risks and accidents. Due to the unpredictable nature of incidents and the fact that risk is always migrating it is hard to predict what and when something will happen. In addition to that, by putting more and complex layers of protection in place, this could slow down responses. Then there is the phenomenon of paralysis, where the feeling of being protected causes people to stop thinking for themselves and even getting overconfident and starting to take chances.

Lastly, there is often a lack of transparency and openness to talk about risk due to having targets, a blaming culture or handing out incentives for the wrong metrics such as having no accidents at all. This could lead to people not reporting near misses and incidents to reach incentive goals. In addition, reaching ‘zero accidents’ could be the start of complacency and due to the unpredictable nature of incidents, they will appear in other unexpected places.

The solution: defining risk systems

The solution would be to achieve a situation where the company has extremely well-defined risk systems. The focus should be on a lean set of systems that focus on (only) the critical risks. These systems and controls should be constantly reviewed and improved. The reduction of risk should be innovative and active. To measure is to know, by measuring readiness, response, risk treatment and resilience there is assurance that major risks are actually being controlled. Things that could be measured include the rate of risk observations, near and far miss reports, the rate and quality of CRM audits, rate of verified controls etc.

To counter paralysis, companies should focus on changing risk perception, to help workers understand the risks around them. Teaching risk skills will further aid in getting the right response at the right time. The bowtie method can be a good method to help facilitate risk discussion by visualizing risks and giving a framework to help discover threats, consequences and controls (barriers). By focusing on the critical controls for major accident scenarios, the lean and focused approach that Corrie talks about can be practiced.

Watch the video for a detailed presentation of the 7 most dangerous ideas and how to address them.

How to define risk systems in practice

In advanced barrier management, the barrier becomes the centerpiece of a plan, do, check and act cycle. This way the proposed constant reviewing of the systems can be done on a barrier-level by auditing barriers and assessing barrier performance during incident (or near/far miss) analysis.

In BowTieServer, several modules help uncover trends that could lead to vulnerability. It is possible to do audit- or incident trending on a detailed level, but also to look at total near miss report numbers over a period of time, or to do action-tracking to make sure that improvements are actually implemented fully.

Using our barrier based software, you can help make the risks in your organization more salient and catch that first moment of vulnerability.

If you would like to know more about this, contact us and we’ll be happy to show you how this can be achieved.