Recent travels took me to areas around Mexico. While there I enjoyed watching the children at a birthday party being blindfolded and trying to hit a piñata with a stick and thus get all the candies and small toys to shower down on them. It was a fun time that also brought back memories from my youth and the sound advice my papa used to give me. In this case I can still hear him say, “Son, never hit a piñata that has hornets flying out of it.”
How does this apply to safety? I have yet to work with a group that did not face difficult issues. Which ones do they decide to work on with the scarce resources at hand? Normally the groups start with a risk assessment which in turn sets up a loose listing of priorities. Yet there are seldom enough resources to tackle them all. So now what? My opinion is that you must work on the fatal risk issues first, but which one of the many do we tackle now, and then how do we prioritize the many lesser risks which follow? Here is where I apply my father’s wisdom and begin with the ones we know we can solve. In so doing we steer away from the hornet nests until we have the experience, knowledge and trained resources which can successfully take on and overcome the more difficult, resource crippling risks that must someday be resolved. Build a successful team that can enter into the fray and make a win for everyone without being severely stung in the process.