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Mitigating or Exchanging Risk?

Updated: Mar 29

I've been on a cruise ship this week! It has been a good experience, but one that brings to mind a couple of things. First, I have noticed that as a safety professional, I am always looking out for hazards or risks, more than the average individual. More on that in another post! I saw the crew doing some work at heights and they were replete with PPE, including harnesses, coveralls and steel toed footwear! So great to see! But then I noticed something else- a hazard that instead of being mitigated, was simply transferred or exchanged for a different risk. One that I think could have been avoided.

Let me tell you more. The boat that I was on had a lifeguard program that was fairly new and they are working out the kinks of it all. There is the main pool, kiddie pool and four hot tubs, one at each corner of the central pool area. According to information I was given, the lifeguards are not responsible for the hot tub usage, but just for the main pool area. They are also concerned with how many kids are in the pool and where their parents are. I witnessed in a few occasions that they would kick out kids who didn't have parents nearby.

Herein lies the problem. In an effort to keep the pools safe and with the proper amount of kids in them, they would kick out kids whose parents weren't nearby. The kids then went directly to the hot tubs.

Now the hot tubs are hot and they are also small. They also happen to be a place of solace for the adults and of course the teens...

So what does this all have to do with safety, you may ask? Well, instead of mitigating the risk of having parents nearby, they transferred the risk to the hot tubs. Remember, I am in a lovely tropical climate with sunshine and heat. Having kids getting into the hot tubs and staying there for I don't know how long, is cause for concern for heat stress. It is also harder to monitor those areas for risks like drowning, etc.

Of course, being the safety professional that I am, I brought it up through the appropriate channels and they are working on fixing these concerns. sometimes as safety people, we are so inclined to follow the rule, that instead of doing the good they it should by reducing risk, it can just transfer it somewhere else. Keep this in mind as you bring awareness about heat rigour workplaces.

I'd love your feedback, what would you have done differently as the lifeguard in board? Share with me in the comments section below.

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