Monday, October 7, 2013

Personal Risk Tolerance Series - The common threads

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on personal risk assessment. Read the series introduction here.

In the work place, at the home and off the job we all make untold numbers of decisions about what to do and how to do it.  From a personal risk perspective there seem to be three common threads:
  • Recognizing the risk.  The uninitiated worker may not actually understand what could go wrong with a situation.  I remember circumstances raising our children when we had to step in to protect our young from dangers they honestly did not know about or appreciate.  For a similar reason new employee orientation is of significant importance to the newbies who just don’t know what they do not know.  There are all kinds of statistics out there about a high percentage of injuries occurring to the newer employee who is not aware of the dangers or the mitigating factors he/she should employ.  The use of a good/thorough Job Safety Analysis (JSA) process is an important tool for recognizing the hazards which will be encountered with work tasks. The JSA must go beyond just recognizing the hazards and into what must be done to eliminate the possibility of injury.  And, of course, there must be a corporate and personal commitment to both train and live the JSA realities.  

  • Understanding why it is a hazard.  We all come with a differing set of perceptions based on things like age, physical capabilities, pride, previous experiences and the like.  These personal filters are often very effective in keeping us from correctly evaluating the problems we face.  In turn this kind of false confidence has a noticeable probability of resulting in personal injury.

  • Risk tolerance.  We see the risk, we understand the risk, we make a decision to either remove the hazard or proceed anyway.  At this juncture I like Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” perspective; our safety is not dependent on what the government or the company provides us. With respect to safety, our safety first and foremost depends on our personal common sense and the personal responsibility/precautions we take when faced with issues that can be dangerous to us, our fellow workers and our family members.
Over the next few blog posts there will be a focus on the 10 most frequent personal risk assessment faults, why “we” accept certain levels of risk and what you and your employees can do about this personal risk assessment reality on and off the job.

The Doc

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