The Temporarily Impossible File

February 18 2015
By: Terry L. Mathis

Sometimes in safety, it can seem impossible to fix a problem or identify the cause of a rash of accidents, or find the best way to get workers more engaged. Safety people are problem-solvers, and unsolved problems are a thorn in their side. It helps to remember that everything is impossible until we figure it out. It was once considered impossible to split an atom, run a mile in less than four minutes, or even for human beings to fly.

Many organizations that strive for safety excellence keep a "temporarily impossible" file in which they list issues and problems that have not been addressed or solved. They pull it out from time to time and review the issues and problems in light of recent changes and advances. A few each year get removed from the list and out of the file. The world is full of miraculous possibilities patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in "The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS" three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

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