willful blindness

As a safety professional, I am always trying to find new ways to stress the importance of “safety”.  It’s one of those over used words and many times we ignore it at work, we forget about it at home, and we think it should happen “naturally’, but it doesn’t! The cliché saying “100% Safety”, is setting the standards so high, it’s almost impossible for a human to attain.  From the NASA analysis of HEA (Human Error Analysis) it’s difficult to have an accurate risk assessment on human error due to the improbabilities of inconsistencies and reliability. Equipment manufacturers have far exceeded the required quality, training is available online or in person and yet the following stats are still happening:

Stats.bls.gov :

  • The 2014 total of 4,821 fatal work injuries was 5 percent higher than the count of 4,585 fatal work injuries reported for 2013. The count for 2014 was the highest since 2008.


  • 4,821 workers were killed on the job in 2014 [bls.gov/iif/cfoi_revised14.htm] (3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) — on average, more than 92 a week or more than 13 deaths every day.
  • 804 Hispanic or Latino workers were killed from work-related injuries in 2014—on average, more than 15 deaths a week or two Latino workers killed every single day of the year, all year long.
  • Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 17 percent of all fatal work injuries in 2014.

If we are still having deaths and fatalities in the construction industry, then we need to work on the behavior. I listen to TED talks quite frequently and I remember one about a war correspondent. She reported on some of the worst conditions any human should never be subjected to.  In one particular story, the town was told to evacuate as war was coming, yet no one wanted to believe it.  They created Willful Blindness; it won’t happen to me.  Ignorance in any situation is the unwillingness to recognize hazards and dangers of a situation and the risks involved.  We all have the courage within ourselves to make a difference with our safety and protecting our team members; don’t fall prey to Willful Blindness!

Belay Off,

Kathy Brand


Tower Safety & Instruction