Failing to Prepare

7 September 2015

Failing to Prepare

Way back in the 18th Century the famous American President Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying "by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail". Whilst this quote is 300 years old and the civilised world has undergone massive transformations, it still rings true.

So does the preparation of our daily work routine go far enough to ensure we don't fail?

Before commencing a task we ensure that everyone is aware of all the identified hazards along with the control measures. This ensures that the risk posed by the hazard is minimised as far as reasonable practicable. But what about the unidentified hazards, how do we go about managing those hazards? Is it even possible to manage those hazards? The answer is simple, we can't foresee every eventuality; every possible outcome from every task, but what we can do is prepare for those unforeseen instances. 

How many trial fire alarm evacuations do you carry out at work? We all undertake these trial evacuations to ensure that we know what to do when all the control measures don't work. Control measures such as the engineers ensuring the building is built with the correct materials and design, all the electrical equipment getting tested, smoke/heat detectors etc. But even with all these control measures we still hear of terrible accidents resulting from fire. 

So in your workplace whilst you may identify what hazards pose the most risk to you and plan accordingly, how many of you practice for that unforeseen emergency situation? Do you ever discuss and practice what the plan of action would be if, for example, someone were to fall and be suspended in his or her harness? What if someone's gas detector in a confined space started sounding and they weren't responding? By rehearsing scenarios such as these, all involved will be more familiar with the process and be able to manage the incident better, as opposed to the red mist coming down and hoping someone will lead the situation to a successful outcome. 

Whilst planning for an eventuality that may not even happen seems like a waste of time and resources, sit back and have a think about what the potential costs both real and hidden may be. So think of the consequences if we don't heed Benjamin Franklin's words and we "failed to prepare".