Causation and Correlation

November 13 2016
By: Terry L. Mathis

Statisticians tell us that correlation is not necessarily causation. Yet we make that mistake in safety all the time. We go for a period of time with no accidents and convince ourselves we are doing safety well. We implement a new program or process, accident rates decrease and we assume we know exactly why it happened. We have our eye on the goal and try to manage the results rather than gaining a deep understanding of the things producing them. We use mantras such as "zero accidents" which further fuel the thinking that anything producing "zero accidents" for whatever period of time must be the right thing to do.

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Excellence is not simply stellar results. Excellence is knowing precisely what produced those results and being able to duplicate that performance and produce those results year after year. It is also the realization that "best practices" is a term frozen in time and no best is ever quite so good we cannot conceive or invent a better.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.

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