We are auditing factories everyday. And every day we are facing some safety gaps. Can we then conclude the factories are not providing enough means to ensure the safety of facilities? Obviously it is sometimes the case with missing equipment or deactivated safety tools. But more frequently, the gaps are due to wrong usage of equipments or wrong practices. One of the most critical problem we unfortunately meet still quite often is the locking of emergency exits. Some emergency exits are locked with keys as there is normally no reason for anyone to use these doors. But, in case of emergency, it will be impossible to use the exits while the evacuation routes lead to these doors. It is always one of the main cause of casualties during fires in factories.
One can look at this problem as a technical one. The door shouldn’t be locked. But it is actually more a problem related to the lack of awareness. As long as the danger is not understood at all the levels, we will always have the risk of a maintenance manager installing a locker to be sure to prevent anyone to use this way. As it has no consequences on daily job, it won’t be seen and the door will remain locked for months or even years. Bringing awareness is the only real solution to this kind of gaps. Thus the correctives actions shouldn’t be asking for the door to be opened as it is only a symptom of the lack of danger awareness. It is indeed training, explanation that are needed.
It is a long approach, but it would prevent the 3 workers of the picture to think to that kind of solution to problems that can hardly be all forecast. Risk taking is never higher than when it is not known.