Unsafe Acts & Unsafe Conditions Go Hand In Hand

Al’s Kitchen Tools

I’d like to illustrate, as I have with many 1000’s of people
in my conference presentations and my “Creating & Maintaining a Practical
Based Safety Culture” training courses just how powerful safe and unsafe
conditions are. More importantly, how these unsafe conditions need to be
controlled to really result in lasting safety. The myth that unsafe acts are
the primary cause of incidents is in my mind is revealed in this simple
example.

An all too common unsafe act or behaviour is using a knife
as a screwdriver. I haven’t met too many people who wouldn’t admit to doing
this unsafe behaviour. If not engaged in this specific behaviour, they will
admit to doing one least as unsafe as the knife/screwdriver adaptation (big smile). Using the wrong tool for a job can be a
very unsafe act.

Now ask yourself what you could do in your kitchen to almost
(noting is a 100%) guarantee that you will NEVER do this unsafe act again in
your kitchen. You will answer, as 1000s have done before: “Put a screwdriver in
your kitchen drawer.”

To disregard unsafe things as a major part of our analysis
of incident causing factors in our work place is very foolish. Heinrich was
wrong, the Behaviourist who label unsafe acts as the “primary” factor are also
wrong. Take away the unsafe thing and the behaviour has, in a large number of
cases, no chance to happen.

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