Managing Safety Performance NewsFlash

Proceed With Caution!

In your opinion, which is more dangerous?

  1. Entering a confined space
  2. Entering a pedestrian crosswalk on a busy street

The answer seems obvious, doesn’t it?  A confined space. What’s in there – or not in there – is perfectly capable of producing serious harm, even death.

Which, after all, is the very definition of “dangerous.”

Being dangerous places, confined spaces are often labeled; come with a rigorous procedure to control entry, and require training before someone can be given permission to enter.

By comparison, pedestrian crosswalks are designed provide a safe zone to cross traffic. Anyone can use them; put one down on the pavement, everyone who wants to cross a street is expected to use it.

Which implies a pedestrian crosswalk is the very definition of a “safe zone.”

If it is, there’s no reason to worry about safety, because a crosswalk is safe – not dangerous.

But is it? Not if you think oncoming traffic – cars, trucks, motorcycles and even bicycles – are capable of producing harm to someone in the crosswalk.

In a word, dangerous.

How dangerous? Enough to produce serious harm, even death.  Sadly, not everyone using a crosswalk thinks that way – or acts that way.

The example of a pedestrian crosswalk makes an important point about what’s dangerous at work. Long story short: just about anything can be dangerous.

Always proceed with caution.


One final point: Another route to coming up with an answer to that question would be to ask, “Which one actually produces the most harm to people?”

If you did, the numbers would make the answer obvious:

  • Fatalities from the hazard of confined spaces: 44*
  • Fatalities from pedestrians struck by vehicles: 5,987*

Paul Balmert
March 2018


*Statistics for 2016 according to the BLS and NHTSA

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