A couple of years ago, Ben Baldwin, McKenney’s Pipe Shop Superintendent, posed an interesting metaphorical question that is just as relevant today, especially as we focus on addressing McKenney’s Blind Spots to prepare for an exciting 2023.
“Consider driving down an interstate during a rainstorm, and your driver’s side wiper blade comes off, making it difficult to see. Think about it: you’re traveling 60 mph, your wiper blade detaches during heavy rain, and your ability to see the road and surroundings has vanished.”
When we prepare to execute work safely, we rely on our PTPs to help predict – or anticipate – what could go wrong during our day. We tend to focus on the main tasks and often believe we adequately assessed at-risk behaviors and conditions. However, our injuries, quality fails, and near misses have revealed that many risks are often hidden in our Blind Spots. These risks emerge during work that we typically don’t plan for because they are considered “routine”. Ask yourself this: have you formally used a PTP to plan such things as relocating equipment and materials or conducting a small demo? Probably not that frequently. Yet, this is where many of our incidents occur.
In his example, Ben makes two points: First, we may feel that we have accounted for all our risks during a PTP and, therefore, approach our work as if it was “second nature.” His second point is that we are not anticipating risks at all levels where they exist. A windshield wiper’s failure exposes that we may not have looked at a potential Blind Spot of our trip.
We should all expect the unexpected as a precaution.
Don’t rely on prior experiences when thinking about what could go wrong. Plan for the unlikely, not just likely, things to happen. Use our Blind Spots to help identify those parts of our day where we traditionally have not identified hidden risks that may put you – or your coworkers – in the “line of fire.”
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