Managing Risk at the Right Level
Headwork: Increase Your Odds of Success
What's the issue?
Good headwork is a critical skill. It means making choices based on sound reasoning and good judgment, as opposed to spur-of-the-moment, off-the-cuff guesses. Good headwork means choosing practical, workable courses of action. Making good decisions about common sense risks under pressure or when you're in a hurry. Nevertheless, poor headwork is common.
What's going on?
Human error is a factor in four of every five mishaps. Some of those errors are poor headwork: faulty decisions that increase risk and produce negative results. People exhibit poor headwork and make mistakes for a variety of reasons, including inexperience, poor planning and insufficient training.
Examples of poor headwork.
* Being in too much of a hurry. Trying, as Larry the Cable Guy says on TV, to just "Get'r done!" Not having enough time is a common problem. Cutting corners is a dangerous solution.
* Lacking the right tool or PPE. This may lead people to invent something "just as good," or push the envelope too far. A lack of time/resources/ideas is also a factor.
* Coming up with something that seems ingenious, but it turns out to be "un-genius." Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time, but in retrospect, the risks outweigh the advantages.
* Assuming that PPE makes you invincible. Protective equipment nearly always works in tandem with other precautions, rules and checklist items.
* Thinking that the worst case is impossible. It isn't. Just because it is rare still means you have to do everything you can to avoid it.
* Just because something worked once doesn't make it a good idea.
Discussion items and open question
* Are there any errors you see regularly during normal work? Why do people make these errors?
* What is the dumbest thing you've ever seen someone do on-duty? How about off-duty?
* Do you ever feel boxed in when it comes to decision-making options? If so, what is the root of this problem?
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