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The Problem With Pandemics

The problem with pandemics is that for many people, we're experiencing something never experienced before.

We're seeing our day-to-day activities and life, in general, being interrupted.

We're having to change the way we do things- the things we've always done the same way for years.

And there's no doubt that many organizations and individuals have put in place some great efforts and measures to reduce the risk. We're seeing improvisation and pivoting like never before.

However, many more have failed to think through their control measures properly. Now more than ever we need to think through what are the byproducts of our actions or control measures.

As an example, I saw a major sports retailer on the weekend who had partially closed their huge entry doors to funnel people in one point (about 1m wide) and funnel them out at another point (also 1m wide).

They also had a sign up asking people to wait at the entry line (which had bunting in place to queue people) to be called into the store, based on the number of people in there.

Good in theory but I watched people just stream in while the counter staff just looked on with no intervention.

And then I got to thinking what would happen if something happened in the store such as a fire? Exit points are designed and based on set standards (and for a good reason!), but it seems in an effort to control one problem, we've created another potential problem.

This is a byproduct of risk controls not thought through properly.

Ssssooooo..... my advice to every organization or individual who is putting in place control measures for any rise, not just for pandemics, is to properly think through the process. Think about work as imagined versus work done. Properly assess every control measure- do they create unintended or other risks? Ensure everyone is trained properly in the new control measures. Ensure there is proper monitoring and reviews done throughout the process.

Don't rush to fix one issue that in turn creates another issue. One doesn't negate the other- they both need to be addressed.

Interested in Knowing More?

Further information on Safety Wise’s Incident Cause Analysis (ICAM) Training is available from our website:

Additional ICAM Related Services

Safety Wise also offers the following additional services for sites that adopt the ICAM investigation analysis method:

  • Quality review of incident investigations using ICAM

  • Participation in investigations as an external/independent party

  • Investigation coaching


ABOUT THE AUTHOR- Luke Dam (Chief Executive Officer)

Luke has worked in various industries over the years including pharmaceutical, retail, manufacturing, and transport including iconic brands like WesFarmers, Goodyear, CSL Limited, and Incitec Pivot Limited.

His work in OHS and learning and development has seen him deliver services to clients, both internal and external as well as managing service delivery teams around the world.

Luke holds a Graduate Certificate of Management (Learning) as well as a Diploma of Occupational Health and Safety, a Diploma of Training and Assessment Systems, a Certificate IV Workplace Training and Assessment, a Certificate III in Mine Emergency Response & Rescue and a Certificate II in Public Safety (SES Rescue).

Luke is extensively involved in a project to establish an association dedicated to confined space safety and to drive change in legislation to promote best-practice in this high-risk area. Luke is passionate about online OHS and incident investigation communities, moderating a number of large LinkedIn groups boasting over 11,000 members globally.


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