Safety is Freedom From Risk

Why Safety is Freedom From Risk?

If you’ve ever attended one of the thousands of talks I’ve given on safety and risk you know that I’m a fanatic for the definitions of certain words. I spend a lot of time discussing the definitions of key words such as safety, risk, exposure and accidents. Until we all agree on standard definitions for these words, we can’t possibly learn how to be safer.

The first definition is safety. The word safety is defined as freedom from risk. It’s important to understand that we’re never free from risk. Ever. There’s always some level of risk associated with just being alive on the surface of this planet.

We are Never Truly Safe?

During the past year I’ve noted just how unsafe the world can be. I’ve noted that it’s no longer safe to be in your third grade classroom in an elementary school. It’s no longer safe to be at a worship service in your church. As we’ve recently learned it’s no longer safe to attend an outdoor country music concert in Las Vegas. They want you to believe that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but sadly that’s no longer true.

Today I stumbled on an article that took this concept far beyond the limits of human imagination. This might be the most ludicrous example I can think of to demonstrate that we are never truly safe. In this situation, a disgruntled employee opened fire on his coworkers, killing at least three of them as they attended (Are you ready?) a safety meeting. 

While at first this article seems like a good candidate for the books on irony, it is of course, a tragic event; one that deserves reflection and review. What could have been done to prevent this? Finding the answer to that question may help us in the future. As I said, safety is freedom from risk. Our only hope is to manage that risk…to do the necessary things that eliminate or reduce risk. Please remember, we can never be truly safe, but with effort, we can manage risk and be safer.