Levels of Safety

October 22 2017
By: Terry L. Mathis

We often hear about layers of protection, such as in Reason's Swiss cheese model, but we don't often talk about levels of protection. Levels of Safety A recent article blamed behavior-based safety (BBS) for not preventing fatalities. What prevents fatalities is different from what prevents slips and falls. Safety must be addressed differently at various levels of risks. You can blame your scissors for not cutting steel but are ignoring the fact that different tools are designed for different applications. Your traditional safety program of rules and procedures should address your high-probability/high-severity risks, and BBS should address your low-probability/low-severity risks.

At the bottom of this thinking is the lingering delusion that somehow BBS is a silver bullet or magic pill miraculously making all levels of accidents disappear. This thinking is inaccurate and displays a very limited view of what BBS is and what it can potentially do to improve safety.

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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