‘Sneaking Up on It’

Many safety challenges are seemingly beyond the ability of current methods to resolve, primarily because technologies to mitigate them have not yet been developed, are only now being conceived of, or are currently infinitely expensive. One important way to deal with these is to sneak up on them.

Sneaking up involves understanding the odds of hazards turning into disaster in detail (statistically), and driving them down to their lowest possible value. Mathematically there is still tiny risk that someone will be hurt, but practically — in the real world — it doesn’t happen because the circumstances for most disasters are so rare that they don’t come to pass over the time period being managed.

This only works if continuous improvement is foremost in the plans for the future. Successive design upgrades are required, each pushing safety a little further forward. Non-stop incremental improvement is critical to staying ahead. Without this push, if progress stagnates, statistics will catch up and a disaster will eventually occur.

It’s very important to stay ahead of the curve. It can be done most efficiently by improving a little at a time.

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