July 25 2015
By: Terry L. Mathis
Many organizations teach their workers basic hazard recognition as a part of safety training. They tend to emphasize the hazards with the greatest potential to cause severe injuries. Once such training begins to take effect, and accident frequency and severity diminishes, the remaining hazards tend to be viewed as "no big deal." However, when these "no big deal" risks are the largest remaining cause of injuries, they also need to be addressed.
Training in low-probability risks has been the answer for many organizations. Such training often accomplishes another step change in safety lagging indicators after results have hit a plateau. Focusing workers on the most common, low-probability risks can address a whole other type of accidents that traditional hazard recognition either misses or stops short of addressing. Workers come to realize some risks don't always cause immediate injury but, if repeated often enough, can get them hurt. They realize the limitations of their own common sense and experience and begin to rely on organizational data to create focus on the remaining risks.
It is critical that as workers turn their attention to low-probability risks, they don't lose their focus or attention on those bigger issues addressed in the early stages of safety efforts. Low-probability hazard recognition can be a great add-on to traditional hazard recognition, but cannot replace it.
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.