There was a risk manager who swallowed a fly …..

I am sure most of us are familiar with the poem:

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird
How absurd to swallow a bird!

She swallowed the bird to catch the spider;

That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

Of course, it goes on and on and on.

So, what has this to do with risk management I hear you say?  Well, have I got a story for you!

A very diligent and thorough risk/safety manager identified that there were hairline cracks in the tiles in the foyer of a building he was working in.

However, I think his diligence and thoroughness went a little too far because he made an assumption that someone could come into the building barefoot and that “they could cut themselves”. Remember – these were hairline cracks

This building is occupied by a tenant where the likelihood of anyone walking in, in bare feet would be extremely low – and, even if they did – remember – these were hairline cracks.

Immediately, the diligent and thorough risk/safety manager applied hazard tape over the hairline cracks so that no-one could suffer the horrible fate of cutting their feet on the cracked tiles in the foyer of the building used for purposes that would not ever see anyone in the foyer in bare feet.

Swallowed the fly.

But then, the tape started to lift as people walked over it, creating a trip hazard that everyone – with shoes or not – could trip over.

So that didn’t work.

Immediately, the diligent and thorough risk/safety manager removed the hazard tape over the hairline cracks so that no-one could suffer the horrible fate of tripping whilst being protected from the even more horrific fate of cutting their feet on the cracked tiles in the foyer of the building used for purposes that would not ever see anyone in the foyer in bare feet.  But the danger is still high.

I know – I will submit a work order to have the entire foyer re-tiled.

Swallowed the spider.

But then, external parties became involved in his gourmet feast of insects and arachnids and decided that, at the same time, the foyer could be totally transformed with the addition of meeting rooms and probably, if the current trend were followed – probably a living wall as well.

The cost. Well over $1 million.

Swallowed the bird.

But wait, there is more.

The building is being torn down in three years at the end of the current lease!!!!

Yep – all that money is being spent to treat a perceived risk (and when I say perceived risk I mean perceived by one person) when in fact, the likelihood of someone entering the building in bare feet and then cutting themselves is so miniscule it doesn’t even bare thinking about. And, let’s say that, on this particular day someone did enter and did cut their feet – what would be the consequence? It certainly wouldn’t be amputation, or a trip to the emergency room for stitches. At worst it would barely draw blood because, oh did I mention it, they were hairline cracks.

If there is such concern – put some grout in the cracks and move on. Spending in excess of a million dollars in the name of safety in a building that is to be torn down is beyond crazy.

Surely, we can apply a modicum of common sense here – otherwise we are going to end up also swallowing the cat, the dog, the cow and the horse.

She is dead, of course.

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