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Toolbox: Planning & Safety


Murphy’s Law states: “If anything can go wrong, sometime it will.”

That’s a very negative message, and safety is a positive thing. But when you think about it, Murphy’s Law does have something to tell us about safety.

Safety planning really means thinking of the worst things that could happen, and then taking steps to prevent them. You start with a negative idea, and you end up taking steps for a positive outcome.

Here’s an example:

If you temporarily place a box of supplies in a rarely-used traffic aisle, Murphy’s Law says that somebody will walk along that aisle, fall over the box and break an arm.

Using this example, how can we put Murphy’s Law to good use? We can do this by imagining the worst possible consequences of our actions; and then taking measures to introduce safety into the situation to prevent these consequences. In this case, it would involve thinking of the worst possible outcome if we put the box there, and then taking steps to remove the hazard.

In other words, you use recommended safe work practices to protect yourself against the worst-case scenario.

Even with unplanned shutdowns you can still plan ahead safety precautions that you and your crew will take into consideration to finish the job safely; you can coordinate the best way to do lifting without exposing workers underneath the load; you can have welding jobs in a Hydrocarbon system and have operational precautions to complete the job safely.

A good planning strategy will help you coordinate resources, materials and equipment that will help you complete the job on time and safely

“If anything can go wrong, sometime it will.” Those are important words to remember in planning and practicing safe work procedures.

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