April 08 2018
By: Terry L. Mathis
High-probability risks and risks with potential high severity get our attention. We can accurately predict the potential outcomes of taking these risks and they are obviously undesirable. So once we get trained and are experienced in a job, why can't that same sense of danger eliminate all our accidents? Because we look at lower-probability or lesser-severity risks and think, "That's no big deal." And we are right! Compared to the bigger risks, these risks don't seem as ominous. Also, we may have previously taken these seemingly lesser risks without resulting in injury. Both our assessment of risks and our experience tell us "no big deal."
However, when we are called into organizations that have good safety performance but can't seem to get rid of those last few accidents, guess what we find? The remaining accidents are caused by these no-big-deal risks. Often, the organization has failed to identify these because they have been labeled as no big deal and there is no obvious pattern to their occurrence. These are classic examples of low-probability risks, and they are often the final frontier of safety excellence.
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.