May 9, 2019
Tell me if you’ve ever heard the following:
All accidents are preventable!
Why on earth would anybody do that?
Didn’t they know that was dangerous?
And the most derogatory- You can’t fix stupid…
Why are these phrases and questions so often used? Do they serve a purpose, provide value, or do they in fact lead us to false conclusions and lack of learning? What area or understanding are we missing we when hear others [or ourselves] say these common expressions?
For Day 5 of Safety Week, I’d like to propose a useful inquiry that will inform our lunch and learn topic: Managing the Unexpected:
All accidents are preventable, only if they were predicted to happen. You can’t intervene or manage a situation unless you had the foresight it was coming.
Perhaps a more useful question: Why does it make perfect sense for people to do what they do at the time they do it? This question can unearth gold in that it has us challenge our hindsight bias and has us consider all the small seemingly inconsequential variables that contributed to the event. It’s only after the fact that we should have seen it coming, seen the danger, or known not to do it…
In order to better manage the unexpected, I encourage each of us to develop a questioning mind, seeking out potential hazards (objective dangers) and noticing our relationship to risk (subjective perception/tolerance of at-risk behaviors or conditions) before something happens, whether related to driving, home safety, business or personal travel, or health and well-being related items. We do want to learn after the fact from the error of our ways, as humans are error-prone machines; however, many times the price we pay from this kind of learning, under certain circumstances, is too great.
I believe coming together to share our experiences, and most importantly our personal practices to keep safety present in our everyday lives, is the key to managing the unexpected. It’s this kind of deliberate learning that’s required to live safe lives and protect those we care most about.