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Knowledge at Work - UL Workplace Health & Safety

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Workplace Safety

The ripple effect of incidents: more incidents

July 12, 2013 - Posted by Jonathan Jacobi

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On June 29, 2013, tragedy struck a world-recognized artistic entertainment troupe. The stage casualty was the first in the company's 29-year history.

Show operations were suspended following the incident. One would suspect that decision was difficult given the entertainment industry’s “the show must go on” mentality, yet the decision was made almost instinctively.

Why didn’t this company push on in the face of adversity? I believe that the answer lies in a statement issued by the company founder: "We are reminded with great humility and respect how extraordinary our artists are each and every night. Our focus now is to support each other as a family."

Veteran teams function like families; what affects the “family” affects all family members. Workers often have difficulty keeping their mind on task following incidents. Distracted and stressed, flawed decisions (and additional safety incidents) become likely.

We can counter distractions with assurances that causal factors have been identified and addressed.

The show must go on, but there are times when it makes sense to pause first. Not pausing to reflect, recompose and thoughtfully react will leave the door open to further incidents.

Topics: workplace safety