Consider all the speeding tickets and drinking and driving citations that are issued and people still speed or drink and drive. The same holds true for safety procedures and OSHA compliance. There must be a better way to get workers to work safe not for the sake of merely following safety procedures or complying with OSHA regulations. The better way is to train workers on risk identification, assessment, analysis, and control and mitigation techniques.

The only thing that separates two cars driving in opposite directions from having a collision is the double yellow line in the middle of the road. Why do they not cross the double yellow line even when there is no cop or other means of “immediate” enforcement to comply with the law? It seems that the only motivation is each drivers’ decision to stay on their respective sides of the road. Is their decision based on a fear of enforcement or citations? Drivers look at the opposing vehicle and understand the hazard presented of a head-on collision. Drivers seem to understand the “risk” of the high likelihood of a head-on collision as well as understand the potential consequences of a head-on collision such as physical damage to their vehicle, significant injury to themselves or even a fatality. Without looking at a risk matrix or referring to risk assessment form, the drivers make the decision to stay on their respective sides of the double yellow line which also happens to be the law.

The same applies to driving the wrong way on a four-lane highway or a person standing in the middle of a busy roadway. Why is it not compliance with the laws that affect their decision in these situations? It is because we understand the concept of risk, consequences and likelihood, and base the decision on “what is in it for me?” or “what do I get out of it?” or “of what benefit is it to me?”

What keeps drivers staying on their side of the double yellow line when we do not know who the other driver is or know exactly what they will do. We are hanging onto blind trust and hope that the other driver understands the risk, consequences and likelihood, of a head-on collision as we do. The likelihood is reduced because of this mutually blind trust between both drivers to do the thing that will keep each of them out of a head-on collision. The consequence is unaffected as it is still high.

Why doesn’t each driver become complacent (other than the distracted driver) and just drive on the other side of the double yellow line? The longer we drive and we do not get into an accident the potential is there to develop complacency. Do we have enough near-misses ourselves to keep complacency in check? Do we see enough news stories of others getting into accidents that we do not get complacent?

How can we convince workers and employers to consider risk, likelihood and consequence, in the workplace? We already consider it on the roadways and act appropriately most of the time.

In the driving scenario, is it compliance with the law or is it more of developing a culture of considering risk, likelihood and consequence, to determine our driving habits?

Is there a better way to develop a safety culture instead of relying on compliance and enforcement?

Consider a “new” driver, how do we get them, in a very short timeframe of training, to understand the risk, likelihood and consequence, of driving so that they stay on their side of the double yellow line?

Your responses are welcome. Reply to .

Categories: Blog