How often has it not been said that if common sense had been used the accident would not happened and accidents are meaningless.
How do common sense and meaningless function in an organization with a Safety Management System? They don’t.
If common sense and meaningless don’t function in an SMS world, how is then possible to apply common sense to safety and meaningless to accidents?
If common sense is applied in SMS, the processes are not identifiable and if accidents are meaningless there are no operational reasons.
A common sense approach is to expect a person to make sound and practical judgement without specialized training or knowledge. When driving a car it makes common sense to some stay on the road, not to exceed speed limit and observe other drivers. These common sense processes are to avoid hazards and based on instincts to avoid being harmed.
The incident involved common sense, regular operating procedures and highly experienced personnel.
Further, common sense is not always the same from one to another person. Most of us have experienced drivers who believe it is common sense to honk the horn instead of applying brakes. Others have experienced drivers who believe they are not required to apply signal lights, because everyone else should know where they are going. Then there is the driver who believe its common sense to speed up when the light is about to change from green to red. Since there is no specialized training or knowledge required to manage safety by common sense, all the above actions should be expected as individual actions. Common sense is based on personal experience, knowledge and functional environment. It is not based on a systematic approach to manage safety. It is therefore not possible to manage safety by applying common sense.
An SMS processes must ensure safety by individual training of regulatory requirements, technical skills and understanding of desired outcome.
A meaningless event has no purpose or reason. An accident is emotionally meaningless since there is no reason or purpose for people to be harmed or loss of life due to operational errors. However, if applying meaningless in an SMS organization it is not possible to establish cause and integrated factors of an accident. When analyzing an accident a purpose must be identified and reason established to understand why actions which lead to the accident were applied.
An accident is an outcome which was not planned or desirable. Cause and integrated factors must be identified for the organization to establish criteria of human performance as a test on which a judgment or decision can be based.
SMS is to apply organizational accountability, training and resilience in human performance.
It is often said that an accident should be a wakeup call for others and a reminder to stay alert. Accidents should be investigated and analyzed, but they should not be accepted as Safety Management tools to be used to teach each other lessons, or tools to remain focused on what should not have happened.
In an SMS world accidents happen “because of the way things are done” and not “because of the way things are not done”. It therefore becomes essential to have organizational and operational accountability, specialized training and knowledge, and resilience in human performance.
A business owner once said: “Don’t let anyone should on you. There are many who will tell you what you should not have done, but few with courage to accept responsibility”.