The Danger of 100%


When you look through safety inspections that you or your staff have performed recently, how many 100% scores do you see?  Do you see them often, or are they a rare occasion?  If you give 100% scores on a frequent basis, I encourage you to reconsider your approach.  Here are a few reasons why:


  • THE SCORE IS OFTEN INACCURATE: Most experienced safety professionals (who have a good eye for identifying hazards) know that very few worksites are actually free of all  Simply stated… worksites are managed by people and people make mistakes.  If the inspector takes their time to inspect the entire work area, observe the work, and talk with the workers… they will almost always be able to find hazards that need to be corrected.  Giving a score of 100% on a frequent basis (i.e. more than half the time) means the inspector is either lacking the ability to identify all hazards, they aren’t taking their time and being thorough, they are seeing the hazards but not addressing them, or they aren’t documenting all observations.  Either way, this is concerning.


  • UNSAFE BEHAVIORS ARE ENDORSED: If unsafe conditions or behaviors are present at a worksite while an inspection is done and those conditions or behaviors are not accounted for, it sends a silent message to the workers that says, “Those hazards and unsafe behaviors are acceptable” (especially if this happens repeatedly).  This can actually encourage unsafe behavior to continue! 


  • TRENDS CANNOT BE TRACKED: If all hazards are identified and documented, it allows the company to identify trends that need to be addressed before they result in an incident.  When these hazards are addressed but not documented, those trends go undetected.


  • 100% BECOMES MEANINGLESS: Achievements that are difficult and challenging to accomplish have meaning once they are reached.  Those who reach them feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.  Those who see peers reach these achievements are motivated to work harder (with hopes that they can achieve them).  On the flip side… things that are easy to achieve do not have as much meaning (like participation trophies).  If everyone gets 100% it has no value, and if it doesn’t have value it won’t generate pride or drive anyone to work harder at being safe.


  • IT CAN CAUSE FRUSTRATION: If someone puts a lot of effort into their safety performance and they achieve a score of 100%, yet they see others who don’t work nearly as safe but also achieve 100%, it can cause them to become frustrated and question why they are even bothering.    


As you can see, there are many negative outcomes of always scoring inspections 100%.  Instead, “call a spade, a spade” by documenting all hazards during your inspections.  Make 100% something that is only achieved when perfection is truly reached.  It will drive safer behaviors, allow trends to be tracked better, generate a sense of pride and accomplishment for those that achieve it, cause others to strive for perfection, and avoid frustrating those who genuinely go above and beyond to work safely.


-Kevin Beswick, President of RMS Safety

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