Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ticking the boxes.

We have a culture in this country of ticking the boxes. Management believe that if you give staff enough forms for them to fill out, then the job will be done properly. Also by collecting these forms the company will then demonstrate by this paper trail that their operations are being run safely.

However, in the real world I have known for a long time, that ticking the boxes is a useless exercise.  Getting a muppet to tick all the boxes on a form to certify that the job has been done, does not fool me. Management are happy because they have their treasured paper trail. I prefer that staff are conscientious in their job and do it properly, the paper trail is just propaganda.

To demonstrate what can so easily go wrong when management is obsessed with box ticking rather than safety, you only have to read this story of an avoidable accident...

A POTENTIALLY disastrous collision between two giant ore carriers in Swansea Bay last year occurred because mariners on one of the huge vessels “ticked boxes” instead of actually carrying out safety checks.
The MAIB’s safety digest, published this month, said of the Royal Oasis: “Despite the vessel’s Safety Management System providing an in-depth series of checklists for passage planning (all of which had been tick off as having been completed) the strong flood tide steams in the area had not been identified.
That is the conclusion of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), which reviewed the incident off Port Talbot on Friday, August 13 last year. 
“A pre-departure briefing was also not held and therefore the strong tides were not discussed.
The digest reported: “The modern seafarer often bemoans the number of checklists that have to be consulted before carrying out the simplest of tasks.
“However this accident demonstrates very well the importance of referring to such an aide-memoire rather than just ticking the boxes.”

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