Presented by Mark McLaren, Art of Work
An enormous amount of time and energy is rightfully invested in understanding
what causes and subsequently prevents a life-changing injury or a fatality from
happening in the workplace.
This genuine pursuit can inadvertently contribute to some unintended outcomes.
The bid to stop the unwanted event can lull an organisation into a false sense of
confidence. It is easy to become imbued with misplaced confidence that the
designed and assessed preventive Critical Controls will reduce the likelihood of
something going wrong to almost zero.
This overconfidence effect is a well-established bias. It occurs when a person’s
subjective confidence in their judgements is greater than the objective accuracy of
their judgements. This overconfidence bias can lead to a misjudgement of the
likelihood or probability of something happening. In this case, the belief becomes
one of, “now everything has been thought of and put in place it cannot happen.”
The initial reaction to such a bold statement is that we don’t believe this to be true;
we know it can still happen, albeit it is extremely unlikely to happen. Well here is a
simple test. Q1. How many mitigating controls sit on the right-hand side of your
organisation’s Bowties, and Q2. If the loss of control event occurred would those
controls prevent a serious injury or fatality?
So maybe a way of righting the lopsided Bowtie is not to jettison the controls on the
left but to ask a different type of question. If the loss of control event happens and
the damaging energy is released, such as mechanical, electrical, or gravitational,
how will the damaging energy be contained, distanced or deflected so it does not
cause a serious injury or fatality?
In the upcoming webinar, the question of how to design better mitigating Critical
Controls will be explored further.