Managing Risk: The Problem with Management Tunnel Vision

A welder welding a bar possibly with tunnel vision and poor risk management

Whether you’re employed in the hospitality sector, corporate world, construction or government, risk prevention is most likely a part of your daily routine. If it isn’t, it should be. In any of these industries the one thing that each share is risk. At face value, managing risk can appear very simple. Effective risk prevention strategies are about expecting the unexpected.  It is about looking at the action or decision made, asking ‘what are the potential risks’, and then putting the strategies in place to prevent them. It seems like a no-brainer.

But are you managing risks with a manager’s tunnel vision?

Evaluate your Risks

Far too often, companies begin a risk prevention plan at the management level.  To understand what the risks are, managers may rely on plans done for other locations, missing the unique factors in their own business.

When managers make the commitment to develop an individualized risk assessment plan, it will ensure that the recommended strategies will be both used and useful.  This plan needs to begin with connecting with the individuals who have first-hand knowledge of that environment.

In fact, the most effective practices are created when there is a dialogue between management and the front-line workers.

Create a Culture of Risk Prevention

Risk prevention needs to be a part of every job description beginning with understanding the potential risks in an environment. These safe management practices need to make sense not only for the management team but for the front-line workers. This engagement of front line staff is key, as they are the ones that will be putting these strategies into place. These individuals need to both understand the potential risks and what to do if the risk does occur.

When front line staff becomes involved in the conversation, they start to think of their role in risk prevention. These individuals will become aware of the potential risks in their environment and will communicate if a prevention strategy may be ineffective. This is when safety begins to evolve from a conversation into a behaviour.

Effective risk management cannot be a top down approach. It cannot be leaders and managers dictating terms and procedures. Instead, it needs to be a collaborative discussion where front line workers become actively engaged in both informing and mitigating the risks at their work site.

Having the Right Tools in Place

A risk prevention plan needs to be more than a written document. Safe management practices should include strategies, safety equipment, training and specialized tools. Tools like the Shutgun sprinkler shut off tool, which is specifically designed to mitigate the risk of accidental fire sprinkler discharge. A successful risk reduction plan should be a combination of having access to the right tools and an effective strategy. A strategy that makes incorporating safe practices a part of the routine.

For example: When looking at Fire Prevention, one of your solutions may be adding in an automatic fire sprinkler system.

This is an extremely effective solution to reduce the damage of fire, especially if connected to a local fire department. However; with sprinkler heads comes the potential risk of accidental discharge. A complete risk prevention plan should include strategies both on preventing accidental discharge and what to do if discharge does occur.

But, remember, even if all the right tools are in place, the plan will only work if everyone involved both understands and values it. This is why it’s important to not just create a risk prevention plan but instead, constantly cultivate a culture of risk prevention.

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