Managing Safety Performance NewsFlash

Knowing And Understanding

As important as processes, systems, design and procedures are to working safely, knowledge is the single greatest asset we have to see to it that we go home alive and well at the end of the day.
But there’s a world of difference between knowing something and understanding it. (If you doubt the truth in that observation, ask any fifteen-year-old on the planet a question, and listen to their answer.) Understanding something involves more than just knowing that; it’s knowing how, and why, and why not. Much of what we come to understand comes from experience: experience isn’t always bad, and need not necessarily be personal. You might call that wisdom.
Which brings us to an important point about understanding as it relates to safety: how did you come to understand what you do about doing your job safely?
If you took time to map all that you understand out, it would make quite the display. Formal education. Training classes. Personal experience. Information passed around formally and informally. Research.
It’s a very good bet that you’d find a few really important people in your life who shared their wisdom with you. If they’re still around, you might want to say thanks. Their wisdom might have saved you a lot of pain and suffering.
If you’re now to the point in your life where you’ve gained wisdom, time to return the favor.  Understanding is the most important asset anyone can have to work safely.

Paul Balmert
September 2022

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