March 01 2021
By: Terry L. Mathis
One dictionary defines a countermeasure as "an action taken to counteract a danger or threat." The term was first used in 1923 when the British developed a way to disable a clever German magnetic land mine. Modern military aircraft deploy countermeasures to disrupt the targeting devices in air-to-air missiles. The principle is that certain things can interrupt the progress of other things that are on their way to causing harm. To a large degree, all safety efforts are countermeasures.
We look for what was different and don't find it in the behaviors. Once we identify a danger that can cause an injury, we seek to find ways to interfere with the progress toward the injury. We can interrupt the cycle early, mid or late. For example, we can prevent an H2S leak, we can stop the leak before it becomes wide-spread, or we can detect it late and have workers put on their masks. The more we understand the risk processes, the better we can develop countermeasures to prevent them from causing workplace injuries. Developing the countermeasure mindset is a step toward safety excellence.
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.