Risk Management

Well it looks like Winter finally got here. I was starting to think it just wasn’t going to happen. Very little of what I want to discuss involves WINTER, but there is a situation on my mind that’s worth talking about.

Way back when I was a young Sergeant in the Air Force, my supervisor signed me up for a two day course on Risk Management. When I got the notification I looked at it and thought, “Now why do I care about Risk Management?” It didn’t sound like anything important to me, though from that time forward I’ve practiced it on a daily basis.

We all take risks in life. Even if we choose to stay in bed all day, we’re taking a risk. What if the bed has bedbugs? What if the house burns down? What if Jerry Springer retires? It could happen and sometimes does. Realistically when you’re in business the risks are much larger with potentially huge consequences. Here’s an example:

I was recently hired as a consultant for an engineering firm that was serving as an “expert witness” during legal proceedings due to an accident. While I can’t share very many details, I think I can share enough to make you think about how risks can get out of control quickly if you’re not giving them proper consideration.

A company was using a crane with a grapple, and the operator hit a 500 gallon diesel tank with the grapple. There was a good-sized gash in the side of the tank, so the company called a welding company out to repair the leak. No big deal, it shouldn’t take much to weld up a tank and get back to work, right? Well, probably not.

As the welder arrived on site, he had problems with this and that and maybe ended up a little distracted. Maybe he just didn’t know safe ways to weld on a fuel tank. Who knows what was really on his mind, but he did finally manage to get it all set up, and started his first weld on the tank. A few milliseconds later, KABOOM! The explosion killed one man and critically burned three others. Flaming diesel sprayed everywhere and caused other equipment to catch fire and blow up too. The scene was pretty rough, to say the least.

We’ll skip past all of the court baloney and legal proceedings. This is about managing risk, remember? It’s hard to theorize what kinds of things were going through the welder’s head as he struck that first arc, but I can definitely say he wasn’t thinking about managing risk in relation to the task at hand. If he was, he would have purged the oxygen from the tank and successfully repaired it, collected a check from his customer in a timely manner, and went on to bigger and better projects.

If you’re hiring a person or company to perform a task for you, you’re also managing risk whether you realize it or not. If you choose that person based on just skill, or just education, then you’re leaving out the most important part of the equation: Are you reasonably certain that they will bring their brain to work with them that day, and that it contains the right information to mitigate any risk they might be subjecting themselves and countless others to?

Business is tough. Every business is different. Every day brings different risks for every business. Every person at every level of business (from ditch diggers to CEOs) should be aware of risks and be empowered with knowledge and initiative to mitigate them. Potentially there’s an exploding diesel tank of some kind at every turn.

Next time you need a problem solved with proper consideration for risk and a million other factors, call Amerivet Services. We solve problems every day and we’ll solve yours too!