Safety: Finding the Right Mix of Idealism and Realism
Are all accidents preventable?
The idealist says that, under the right circumstances and with early detection of risks and trends, they are.
The realist says that given probability, massive exposure to risks, human nature and imperfect performance a certain number of accidents are inevitable.
Which view is right and which is wrong?
A pure idealist’s mentality implies that any rate of failure is unacceptable. A pure realist’s mentality implies that it is OKk to hurt workers since it is unavoidable. Either of these extremes tends to produce philosophically flawed and, thus, ineffective safety programs.
The most effective safety effort is neither blind to the magnitude of the challenge nor resigned to accept some level of failure. Likewise, the most effective safety effort is always intelligently adapting but never knee-jerk reacting. Where the idealist would fail to adapt and the realist overreact, the effective safety professional continuously analyzes and improves the approach, always looking for the next better way to improve safety. It is possible to dream the impossible dream without tilting with windmills.
By Terry L. Mathis, founder of CEO of ProAct Safety