Reducing Risk Tolerance, Part 10

Friday, August 27, 2021 5:14 AM

In this 10 part series of Reducing Risk Tolerance we will explore each of the ten factors that influence risk rolerance and provide more details about each.  When taken together, this series should provide a more comprehensive review of the factors that influence risk tolerance so action can be taken to reduce risk toerlance and keep people safer. The factors that influence personal risk tolerance are:

  • Overestimating one’s own capability and experience (increases risk tolerance)
  • Familiarity with the task i.e. complacency (increases risk tolerance)
  • Seriousness of the potential safety outcome (decreases risk tolerance)
  • Voluntary actions and sense of being in control (increases risk tolerance)
  • Personal experience with an outcome (decreases risk tolerance)
  • Cost or implications of non-compliance (decreases risk tolerance)
  • Confidence in the equipment (increases risk tolerance)
  • Confidence in PPE and rescue (increases risk tolerance)
  • Potential profit / gain from the action (increases risk tolerance)
  • Role models accepting risk (increases risk tolerance)

This last chapter discusses how when Role Models Accept Risk they tend to increase risk tolerance for those around them and others.  This may seem intuitively obvious, but when a role model or leader accepts a risk (knowingly or unknowingly) they send a signal to others that it is ok to do the same.  The role model could be a more senior person on the crew or someone that the junior staff look up to or wish to emulate.  It could also be the “cool” person on the crew that others wish to be like.  Regardless of who the role model is, or the source of their influence, others look to this person’s actions, behaviours and attitudes and often consciously and unconsciously wish to emulate them.  If the role model does something that is somewhat dangerous, if they ignore safety messaging or rules, or if they appear to be dsconnected during a safety meeting or toolbox talk, these others will follow the lead of the role model and do the same thing.  The role model doesn’t even need to be actively encouraging others to do the same thing, their example is enough to significantly sway the others to increase their risktolerance and potentially work unsafely.

And while leaders may not be considered role models by some, or by some definitions of the phrase, the impact of leaders acepting risk or not following the rules is similar - others will follow the action and example set by leaders and not necessarily the words they use or what they say.  When leaders accept risk, they increase the risk tolerance of the crew and the organization as a whole.

We need to look for the role models on the crews and teams and onserve and ensure that they are settign the right tone and behviour for others to follow.  This is often a key strategy for risk reduction, to target this key influencer to influence the entire team.