Someone got hurt at work today. It wasn’t too bad! He’ll only be off work for a few days He could have been hurt badly, but in this case it wasn’t too serious.
So that’s alright then!
I don’t even know what happened or what the outcome was, but if someone asks me whether it could have been prevented, my answer would be yes! It would always be ‘yes’. And I reiterate I don’t know what happened. But the answer would be yes.
How do I know that? Because it could have been prevented.
One of the questions I ask people who doubt my conviction is “can you describe an incident at work that might occur, that results in an injury, that it would be impossible to prevent?”
People’s eyes light up with interest to see if they can think of the most extreme incident that might happen. They want to be the one who stuns me into silence if only because I have posed the question with so much conviction. They want me to respond to their brilliant idea with an admission of defeat. They want to look good in front of their colleagues.
The wording of the question is important. I didn’t ask if there was an incident that would or wouldn’t be prevented; unfortunately there are many of those incidents to which the answer would be ‘no it wouldn’t be prevented’. I asked whether it was impossible to have prevented it.
What I’m leading to is that it is not about it being possible or impossible. It’s about how much effort do the people who can make a difference want to put into preventing it or any other incident occurring. So long as they have done their best then whoever is responsible for the effort that has been made can hold their head up high; they might not clear their minds from the idea of ‘what else could we have done’ if someone is seriously hurt or ‘God forbid’ even killed, but they will know they did their best at the time.
Many organisations have very good numbers when it comes to injuries and accidents, but how do they achieve that when others in the same or similar industry have numbers that are not so good? Because they can! Because they have done their best to do what it takes to prevent the next accident occurring. Have you done your best to prevent that accident that hasn’t happened yet from occurring? At the start of this article someone was hurt at work today. Could you look that person’s family in the eye and say that you had done everything you could to have prevented it occurring.
By the way, it was a very slight strain on the ankle and he was only off work the next day and the weekend gave him time to recover in time for getting to work on Monday. So that’s alright then! But he couldn’t play his usual game of squash with his son, and his wife had to drive to see their friends. Remember that even the smallest injury will affect someone other than the person injured.
However it could have been more serious and he might have been off work for some months, or even worse.
I don’t think the question should be “Is it impossible to prevent the accident occurring?” I think the question that should be asked is “is it possible to do something to prevent the accident occurring?”
And then, to do that something before it occurs.