On the Lighter Side
This page provides a mixture of quotes, stories, anecdotes, lists, definitions of terms, and questions and answers, some humorous, that help to make points relevant to risk and safety.
New items are added regularly so check back periodically.
Fear of harm ought to be proportional not merely to the gravity of the harm, but also to the probability of the event.
–Antoine Arnauld, in Logic, or the Art of Thinking, published 1662.
The risk averse make choices based on the consequences without regard to the probability involved. The foolhardy make choices based on the probability of an outcome without regard to its consequences.
–P. L. Berstein, Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, 1998.
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.
– Amelia Earhart
During a PHA study in Canada, the study team kept referencing waste water going to what the facilitator thought was the "bayou". This term describes a body of water in the south of the US where the facilitator lived. Eventually, the study team realized that "bayou" was being recorded in the PHA worksheets rather than their intended "Bio" which was how the team referred to their waste water treatment facility. This homophone could have affected the interpretation of the environmental results of the PHA.
It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish.
- J. R. R. Tolkien
Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.
- Arnold Bennett
The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
- Albert Einstein
First employee: "I failed my safety training test today".
Second employee: "Why was that?"
First employee: "Well, the question was: In case of fire, what steps would you take? Apparently, the answer is not, 'Very large ones'!"
Human Factors in Processes
Before starting a process hazard analysis (PHA), the team conducted a walk-through of the process. One team member was barely five foot tall. Another team member noticed that the pull chain for an emergency shower was at least seven feet above grade and could not be reached by the short engineer. It had probably been that way for years but most of the people working at the facility were tall enough to reach it and noone ever noticed the deficiency.
Has a review been conducted for your facility to ensure that its design accommodates all people who may be present considering the possible range of anthropometrics and abilities?
Past performance is no guarantee of future success. Operation of a facility for many years without a major incident does not prove the facility has a tolerable risk.