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Keep Safety Simple: In 2020 make plans to Review, Respond, and Replace

You must simplify. You must make the complex simple, then you must make it work. – I.M. Pei

What will you do in 2020 to further simplify the process of creating a workplace where it is difficult to get hurt? Do you have a plan?  Or is your response… “Nah, we are good enough… but thanks!”

Safety is one of the processes that gets pushed back when budgets get tight.  This happens when those far from the hazards that cause injuries look at the past year’s safety success and say, “Nah, we are good enough…”. But it is also heard by the people who are close to the hazards because they consider themselves, “…good enough.”

What does it mean to the spouse, child, family member, or friend of the person injured or killed on the job when they hear, “Sorry for your loss, but we decided last year that we were ‘good enough’ and cut our efforts to create a safer workplace.”

I recently worked on a case where a young person was killed because the condition at the incident site was “good enough” according to the regulations.  As reviewed the situation there were people in the room defending the fact the “good enough” was met.  The reason for the incident was a clearly visible hazard that should have been further mitigated.

In my work with companies I get the question all the time, “How safe should we make it?”  My answer is, “Safe enough for your loved one to not get hurt.”

The process for continuous improvement of safety is to simplify the complex and find ways to review, respond, and replace.  We must review the hazardous material in the workplace and respond with… “Can we further reduce the risk this material presents by replacing it with something else?” In addition, we must review safety procedures and respond with, “Can we simplify the procedures to reduce human error?”  Finally, to continue improving we review our PPE (personal protective equipment) to confirm that it is proper but further we respond with, “Is there a better PPE available that decreases the possibility of injury if all our previous mitigation tactics have failed?”

When we are continually seeking to review, respond, and replace this action becomes part of our mitigation strategy to improve our tactics that prevent incidents that can lead to injury or death.  To develop a positive safety culture that is sustainable we must be continually seeking to improve.

If you are in a high-level position in the company such as an executive ask yourself, “Is it prudent for us to cut the budget and say… we are good enough?”  On the other hand, if you are on the ground floor nearest the hazards ask yourself, “Am I continually reviewing, responding, and replacing mitigation tactics that can create a workplace where it is difficult to get hurt?”

In 2020, don’t commit to a zero-injury workplace… take it to the next level and find ways to Keep Safety Simple.


Carl Potter is a Certified Safety Consultant and Certified Management Consultant who has been working with companies around the globe who want to create workplaces where it is difficult to get hurt.  As an retained advisor to several companies he is continually helping them to find review, respond, and replace to sustain continuous improvement in their workplaces. If you would like to discuss your situation with Carl, email him at carl@safetyinstitute.comto schedule a conference call.

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