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When Safety Proves Dangerous

Risk Transfer

If something has been made safer (like fitting sports bikes with disk brakes) then it does not mean the risk has been eliminated, as it may just put a different group of people (like pedestrians) in increased danger. This is known as Risk Transfer.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

When Safety Proves Dangerous

When Safety Proves Dangerous

https://fs.blog/2020/05/safety-proves-dangerous/

fs.blog

6

Key Ideas

Risk Compensation

Risk protection is normally done to minimize the harm a particular activity can do to us. There are various things we do to reduce our risk, to make ourselves safer.

Behaviour scientists point out that taking measures to reduce the harm we can do to ourselves, can actually make us take more risks, with the added knowledge that there is a safety check in place. This is known as Risk Compensation.

Risk Compensation Effects

  • When automobile safety laws were introduced, the drivers started taking more risks while driving, leading to more pedestrian accidents.
  • Children (and even adults) take more physical risks while playing a sport with protective gear.
  • Safety features like Anti-lock brakes in vehicles ended up increasing the accidents for taxi drivers in Germany
  • Child-proof caps on medicine bottles made parents careless about their being opened by kids, including the ones which don’t have the safety feature.

The Carelessness Effect

Having a safety device in place, and armed with the knowledge that we can push the envelope a bit, the appetite for risk increases.

  • People who have an emergency fund in place tend to be less careful about their investments.
  • People wearing a face-mask in this global pandemic feel like they are safer in crowded places (It’s a face mask, not an Iron Man suit).

Risk Homeostasis

This means that enforcing measures that supposedly make people safer, will lead to changes in behaviour almost like a reflex action, compensating for the extra safety and to maintain the ‘desired’ level of risk, making it a zero-sum action.

Risk Transfer

If something has been made safer (like fitting sports bikes with disk brakes) then it does not mean the risk has been eliminated, as it may just put a different group of people (like pedestrians) in increased danger. This is known as Risk Transfer.

Lessons From Risk Compensation

  • Safety measures need to be invisible, and not marketed or glorified.
  • Prudent behaviour needs to be rewarded, giving people an incentive to stay within limits.
  • Taking an action to decrease risk isn’t always a good strategy. We sometimes end up just changing the nature of the danger.
  • A change for increasing safety may need further rules or measures for the right implementation.
  • When people feel less safe, they are, in fact, more alert and it leads to fewer or milder accidents. This is seen when people drive with extra care in foggy or icy roads.

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The looming threat of being dead at any time turned out to be beneficial for the mental conditions and toughness for the individuals. Suicides lessened, and social unity and community bonding increased manifold.

At Home With Adversity

  • We, as human beings are naturally adaptive to a disaster or crisis, and bad times are improving our morale and strengthening our community spirit.
  • Groups of people collaborating, caring for and working with each other, hand in hand, are the ones who are most likely to live through any crisis.
  • The necessary conditions that we need to flourish as individuals and as a species, ironically, emerge during bad times.

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There is no engineering method, so modular systems thinking varies with contexts.

Fundamental Properties of the Engineering Mind-Set

  • The ability to see a structure where there’s nothing apparent.
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When Disaster Strikes

When a certain disaster or calamity happens, we work towards ensuring that the same calamity can be dealt with in the better way, the next time it happens. The pain or loss that we suffer motivates us to do so.

We forget in our preparation and resource allocation to the ‘last’ disaster, that we have neglected many other things that are more likely to happen.

Expect The Unexpected

  • Life has a tendency to surprise us, and we will be most likely smacked with something totally unforeseen and unrelated to the last disaster, that one was prepared for.
  • A better strategy is to realize that it is inevitable that life will hit us unexpectedly, and to grow and learn from the same.
  • Being adaptive, flexible and resilient would increase our adversity quotient, making us strengthen our inner resources, and enrich our experience.