Have we forgotten to be afraid?

I read recently in the E&T magazine from the IET that when considering ‘lessons learned’ we may have actually forgotten to ‘be afraid’.

As Safety Engineers we regularly deal with probabilities and severities and often claim tolerability should the chance of a hazardous event be less likely then a mathematical target.  Should the fact that safety targets have been met mean that we stop caring – stop being afraid? Resolutely NO!

A chance of one in a million (or less) does not signify total safety; the facts are telling you that it WILL happen at some point; and as such it is vital to ensure you have a strategy to cope and minimise the effect. This is true whether you are dealing with the media fallout of a ‘bad news’ story or ensuring that you have enough protection within a system to safely deal with a failure/hazardous event.

Often it is all too easy to ‘hide behind the numbers’ with contentment. Rarely will the data show that an event will NEVER happen.

Beware of complacency and false security. Remember that remote probabilities do not mean ‘never’. Have a tried and tested ‘coping strategy’ and accept that it is sometime healthy to ‘be afraid’.

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