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Don't let workplace protections lead to complacency: Safety speaker


ORLANDO, Fla. — Work-related injuries and fatalities occur when people stop thinking about potential risks and rely too heavily on safety protections that are already in place, says one safety expert.

Corporate safety is like pedestrian behavior at crosswalks, said Corrie Pitzer, founder and CEO of Vancouver, British Columbia–based consulting firm SAFEmap International, speaking at a session of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ Safety 2014 conference in Orlando. Pedestrians might have the right of way, but it doesn’t necessarily mean cars are going to stop, he said.

“We are so well-protected, we don’t (think we) have to look anymore,” said Mr. Pitzer, whose company provides training solutions for the mining, processing and manufacturing industries.

Mr. Pitzer said there has been “an increase in failure as a result of an increase in protection,” adding that organizations can become “paralyzed by their” own safeguards

“We’ve never been so highly protected in our businesses,” he said. “And we’ve never been so highly pretentious about safety in our businesses.”

Companies should think about the Titanic, the purportedly “unsinkable” ship, and realize that disasters can happen at safe organizations, Mr. Pitzer said.

“I’m not making a case against rule compliance,” he said. “I’m making a case against the loss of thinking.”