Managing Safety Performance NewsFlash

Assuming That

When it comes to our personal safety – at work and at home – we make a huge number of assumptions about things and people every day. Little ones and big ones.

Making assumptions starts with the commute to work. Driving through a traffic light showing green, we assume every oncoming driver will stop when their side shows red. When we are the oncoming driver, we assume the brakes on our car will work. At the rail crossing, we assume that if the gate is up and the lights aren’t flashing, there is no train coming.

Yet we all know from experience that drivers have been known to run red lights and stop signs; vehicle breaks have been known to fail; railroad crossing signals don’t always work as designed.

On the other hand, at work we are required to do certain things because we aren’t allowed to assume something. We put on a hardhat because we can’t assume nothing will fall and hit us on the head. We hold on to the handrail in the stairway because we aren’t allowed to assume we won’t trip and fall.

It’s impossible to double check every single thing in the world – or person on the planet – that might represent a source of harm to us. But it doesn’t hurt to consider what we are assuming. And any time we make an effort to “trust – but verify” we are taking a positive step towards going home alive and well at the end of the day.

If you’re looking for one more example of “assuming that…”, here’s one more story about something seemingly small – a piece of wood – that wasn’t in the condition that it was assumed to be. The failure proved fatal.

Worker killed in Pearland industrial accident

Paul Balmert
June 2018

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