Unintended Consequences

February 22 2021
By: Terry L. Mathis

The task of both safety and quality is to prevent unintended consequences. Our processes are designed to produce products or services, but sometimes they produce injuries or poor-quality products and services. These unintended consequences can be the result of unintentional behaviors, i.e. human error. They can also result from intentional behaviors that only occasionally produce unintended outcomes. These are the results of low-probability risks. When the same behaviors produce acceptable outcomes hundreds of times, they become accepted and often even automatic. Then, when they fail to generate the intended consequences, we often struggle to discover the underlying reasons. Unintended Consequences We look for what was different and don't find it in the behaviors.

Many organizations have successfully mastered their high-probability risks but still struggle with the low-probability ones. Discovering these is the ultimate practice of hazard identification. Addressing them leads to excellent safety and/or quality. Do you know what your most common low-probability risks are and what to do about them?

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.

Subscribe to our newsletter