Treating The Symptoms
Disclaimer: The Incidents narrated are based on True facts, Not all, but Almost!
So, this new joined safety manager, at a steel plant, takes his young daughter of 10 years to a doctor. The child was suffering from severe cough and cold from past one week. The problem started after they moved to the new city, because of her father’s new job. Father was promoted as A Safety Manager and transferred to a mammoth steel plant in a new city. Everything was good, until, after a week or so, when suddenly one fine Monday morning the daughter went on a sneezing spree! About 50 long and short sneezes, firing like an automatic rifle, some in short burst and some long burst.
The Father, immediately jumped to action, the house remedies started with, Steam inhaling followed by cold encountering rubs on the chest and head. The symptoms subsided, but only for a while. The Sneezing spree, started again, later in the evening, this time it was back with a vengeance. Father got to it again with paracetamol, to counter fever, cough syrups, steam inhaling and everything else that has been tried and tested from medieval times to modern ages. It seemed that the treatment was not working and Short relives and bigger bursts, all night long continued.
At last the father seeks medical help.
Test revels asthmatic allergic reaction. One shot of a specific inhalation medication and Vallah!! The symptoms disappeared. Precautions to prevent the triggers were noted and put in action.
So why I am narrating this episode, seems irrelevant and outrageous, or is it?
It seems to me that the Approach towards safety, followed in current times, matches the approach of our protagonist in the story.
Generally, every management, reacts to every incident or accident in the same way. They try to deploy measures that can only suppress the symptoms. PPE, Tool Box Training, worker not trained, worker not fit are some of the examples, which are still used, Thinking, that this will fix the problem, but it is soon learned, like the Father learned, that sickness keeps coming back and keeps getting worse.
A worker, injuring his fingers while using an unguarded machine, generates a reaction of fixing a Machine guard on that machine. That is treating the symptom.
We must keep in mind that one worker injuring his finger on an unprotected Machine is a symptom, indicating a fault in the system. The fault allowed that machine to be on the premises and to be in use. If a proper diagnosis, like the doctor, is conducted then we as, Management, will be able to treat the problem from the core. Treating it from core will ensure that there will be no machines on the premises without a guard.
Treating a problem from the core eliminates the sickness from the core.
Treating the symptoms will keep resulting in re-occurrence of the incident, probably with worse effects over time!