Preventable vs. Prevented

October 20 2019
By: Terry L. Mathis

The whole dialogue about SIFs (serious accidents and fatalities) has again raised the question of zero accidents. While all accidents are theoretically preventable, especially if predicted at early stages, not all accidents are predicted or prevented. For over thirty years now, I have been asking the question in my precautionary Pareto analysis of accidents, "What could have prevented or lessened the severity of this accident?" I think this is the right order of priority. We SHOULD prevent accidents when we can and we should continuously improve our ability to do so. But, where we fail to prevent, we should lessen the severity where possible and continuously improve that ability as well.

The fact remains that human beings are fallible, and will both fail to accurately assess risks and fail to take adequate precautions sometimes even when they identified the risk perfectly. Preventable vs. Prevented Can we attack accidents on these two fronts and impact our serious accidents better than we historically have?

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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