The Most Important Thing

May 05 2019
By: Terry L. Mathis

It continues to amaze me that safety leaders let pet peeves and petty annoyances take precedence over the things that could improve safety the most. I just came from a site where the safety manager announced his "attack" on extension cords across aisles and workers not wearing their hearing protection.

I had just conducted a Pareto Analysis of their past three years of accident data and found that not a single incident had been caused by either of these terrible offenses. However, 49 incidents had been caused by not keeping eyes on path and 42 had been caused by placing one's self in the path of moving equipment (line of fire). That was a total of 91 incidents of the 138 that had occurred over the past three years. The Most Important Thing In other words, focus was being placed on precautions that had no potential impact, while the same amount of attention could have been placed on an equal number of issues that could have impacted 65% of all accidents.

Focus should be based on analysis, not annoyance! Sure, some issues get under your skin, but don't let them distract you from the issues that will give you the best improvements. Always think in transformational terms and get big wins from your focused efforts.

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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