Safety Third ??? You say !!!
A great question was asked of me recently. If Safety is third, then what are one and two, and why are they more important than safety? Well, to answer that question, you must understand that in reality, safety is not really third, or less important– but more like something that happens organically during a project design and production process, and often times, after a project is completed.
If you think about it, every step of our technological evolution and every advance in human progress all started with an idea or discovery. From the discovery of how to make fire, how to harness and deliver electricity, to the concept of building machines that increase production – it was all started with an idea. Ben Franklin most certainly did not think about safety when he strapped that key to his kite and ran out in a thunderstorm. When cavemen discovered fire, I’d be willing to bet they were just happy to find a way to stay warm. Smoke inhalation? Electrocution? Pish, Posh. The thoughts about safety came afterwards. The important thing was that people had ideas and made discoveries that still benefit us today – and more importantly, the standards of safety as we understand it, were not applied when thinking of the final outcome.
Everywhere you look, you see examples that show safety is not always the primary focus when it comes to ideas and designs. This is especially true with makers. Some of the most creative and inventive makers start with an idea, and then figure out a way to make it reality – and I can assure you, safety is third in this process. If you have an idea for a design that can be feasibly made into reality, the safety of the design is often addressed during the design phase. If the design and production are of quality, you can have a reasonable expectation of safety once it’s complete. If it turns out that something in the end product isn’t as safe as it could be, then the design can be modified later. Total safety can’t be guaranteed with everything, but it’s through the process of discovery and experimentation that we see the flaws and fix them, hence the safety third theory.
Safety third is the theory of creating the design, implementing the ideas and most of all, trial and error. The reality is if everything created was done with the focus solely being on safety first, we would not have the progression or advances we enjoy and depend on, and there would be no such thing as progress. We would lose the joy in discovery and in creating something new and potentially useful. By thinking ‘Safety third’, we ensure our continued evolution.