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  1. #11
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    It's a real problem, not an academic one. I probably have more data than I could count at this point - suffice to say, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of records of just about anything you can think of.

    (I can generalise a solution in theory - I can't even begin to flesh out the scope of the problem. It's easy to isolate variables, but the last research I saw identified 19 core variables... the noise in the data is prohibitive to any degree of confidence on which one could justify a proposal to risk reducing security programs. You need a pretty airtight case for that, even for experimenting and control groups.)
    But if you can't experiment, you can't prove it one way or the other. You either have to let the problem build until something has to be done, or you can take a leap of faith, and go with your gut about which programs should be cut, and what the optimal workload is. That's all you can do. Just think about what seems best based on what you've seen, and just go with it. Don't worry about confidence. You've done all the research you can, and you know something is wrong, and you just have to go ahead and act to determine what it is.

    The only remaining thing other than that you could do, is have someone else go, or go yourself, to as many of these sites as possible, and watch how the oversight staff are actually doing what they do, watch how they interact with the workers and the project, ask as many people as you can about their situation, and see if something is wrong, and how close it seems to be to your guesses/estimations. This will give you a better idea of what to do, but you'll have to make a leap of faith at some point, because there's no way to know what will happen without actually doing something.

    In fact, if you did actually go out and see how the procedures are being implemented/ignored, you could eventually figure out what's missing, what's redundant, and what's just not working correctly, and why. You could change the procedures based on what you observed.

    Reports are often incomplete in some way, or overlook something. Just because something is supposed to work a certain way from typical experience and typical people doesn't mean it always does work that way, or that something integral isn't being overlooked even if it seems to work on the surface. People can miss obvious potential problems, implement instructions incorrectly, ignore one thing to focus on another, etc. You have actually watch what happens to see the underlying reasons why it does or doesn't work.

  2. #12
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quite often it's "how to shake off those annoying people who have latched onto me somehow and keep tagging along all the time, without hurting their feelings too much or affecting my relationships in a bad way with other people who are friendly with them".

    Sometimes it's "how to get as much work done in as short a time as possible, leaving the maximum time for exploration and travelling", which ties into "how to get someone to babysit without having to develop some kind of bonding-type relationship with them".

    Or "the kids' hair needs cutting - if I go to the hairdressers in town then I have to find somewhere to park, which is a nightmare, but the ones that are closer are not as good and more expensive".

    A lot of the time: "I really should get back into that whole making lists thing and organising my finances more efficiently, rather than just winging it all the time. It worked back when I did it, I just lost the will to do it, it was such a faff and hassle..."

    After a few hours on my own: "so my dad's body is rotting in the earth just around the corner from me in the cemetery. he believed he would remain conscious of nothing until Armageddon, and then be raised up to live on a paradise earth with eternal youth, but I don't believe that. What do I believe happened to him? What do I feel when I recall the image of his cold, stiff, dead body in my mind? Why don't I seem to feel anything?"

    Following which: "more beer, I think."

    But it's hard to say. I mean at any given moment, there are at least a dozen things going around in my head at once, from the esoteric/theological/philosophical to the practical/shallow/mundane, and half the time the question is "how do these things tie in and relate to each other?"

    I'm often thinking of ways to integrate the things I learn intellectually into my actual personality and behaviour.
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

    "When it all comes down to dust
    I will kill you if I must
    I will help you if I can" - Leonard Cohen

  3. #13
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    But if you can't experiment, you can't prove it one way or the other.
    In RL, everything you do is an experiment. The question is what to experiment on. The proof will come and it will either show that the solution was correct... or not. The problem is in finding the solution (or creating situations in which you can derive the solution with as little time as possible, I suppose). This is one case where experimentation would be required after factoring out key data.

    You either have to let the problem build until something has to be done, or you can take a leap of faith, and go with your gut about which programs should be cut, and what the optimal workload is.
    Hrmm. I'll be sure to write up a report saying that a leap of faith is required and we should start cutting safety programs... I wouldn't advise that even in a hypothetical situation, never mind having thousands of people pay the price for my guesswork.

    Don't worry about confidence. You've done all the research you can, and you know something is wrong, and you just have to go ahead and act to determine what it is.
    That's the problem. I don't know what the problem is. All I have is data.

    You've assumed the problem is in workload, or training, or procedures and that the solution is to cut on something, based on instinct - and are going to start cutting programs based on that!

    Confidence is extremely important - the solution you offered might very well cause a great deal of harm to a great many people. It is better to pick the most confident answer in this case, which would be to work with existing programs and change them.

    The only remaining thing other than that you could do, is have someone else go, or go yourself, to as many of these sites as possible, and watch how the oversight staff are actually doing what they do, watch how they interact with the workers and the project, ask as many people as you can about their situation, and see if something is wrong, and how close it seems to be to your guesses/estimations. This will give you a better idea of what to do, but you'll have to make a leap of faith at some point, because there's no way to know what will happen without actually doing something.
    This is done constantly. It is already part of the data available (audits, official and unofficial, external and internal, attitude surveys, etc) I know how implementation goes and the resulting effect on incidents... implementation is correlated to overall incidents, but incidents have risen uniformly - or nearly so - regardless of implementation.

    Accidents are literally accidents. The conditions set the statistical probability for all of us to have an accident. It's strangely uniform for something that seems random and chaotic.

    In fact, if you did actually go out and see how the procedures are being implemented/ignored, you could eventually figure out what's missing, what's redundant, and what's just not working correctly, and why.
    There is a strong correlation between implementation and end effect - IOW, the new programs do work as they are suppose to (what they target), yet the net amount of non-specific problems continues to rise, offsetting any gains.

    (In any case, I believe the problem lies in focus. The more programs you have, the less focus is given to other programs, therefore each additional program adds value to what it does, but results in a lessening of all other programs. Since each program targets the most critical area, at a certain point the drop of less-critical problems begins distracting from critical problems. The curve is such that when a new program decreases the value of other programs, a net increase of incidents would result. That is, however, only my hunch.)

  4. #14
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    (In any case, I believe the problem lies in focus. The more programs you have, the less focus is given to other programs, therefore each additional program adds value to what it does, but results in a lessening of all other programs. Since each program targets the most critical area, at a certain point the drop of less-critical problems begins distracting from critical problems. The curve is such that when a new program decreases the value of other programs, a net increase of incidents would result. That is, however, only my hunch.)
    Ah. So what you need to do is find a way to determine which programs provide the least positive benefit, and which ones detract most from the attention to critical problems. But how can you show this?

    Are any of the programs redundant, and thus safe to cut out? Do you think that adding more staff to each program would help at this point?
    If the problem really is focus, then one other possibility would be division of responsibilities. You could have different groups of people independently focused on the implementation/execution of different safety programs. So it could simply be that the number of safety programs has exceeded the point where the existing infrastructure for implementing them is adequate.

  5. #15
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by athenian200 View Post
    Ah. So what you need to do is find a way to determine which programs provide the least positive benefit, and which ones detract most from the attention to critical problems. But how can you show this?
    If that is the problem, that is. The solution would likely be not to cut to find a way to reduce the 'focus load' on people anyway.

    The easiest way of showing would probably be threefold - ask the workers, show initial cause in the historical data and experiment with controls in sufficient numbers (ie: you'd be removing a couple of programs, differing randomly across the group to see if it is the program itself or the number of programs).

    Are any of the programs redundant, and thus safe to cut out?
    Nope, no redundancy.

    Do you think that adding more staff to each program would help at this point?
    It didn't in the past.


    If the problem really is focus, then one other possibility would be division of responsibilities.
    This doesn't work so well with slips, trips and such. Safety is everyone's responsibility - oversight doesn't go all that far, other than compliance.

    Programs can be as simple as including alerts like "Make sure you use a hand on the rail when climbing a staircase" and "Don't leave your tools lying around". Other more tangible procedures can be stuff like "All tools must be brightly colored".

  6. #16
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    If that is the problem, that is. The solution would likely be not to cut to find a way to reduce the 'focus load' on people anyway.

    The easiest way of showing would probably be threefold - ask the workers, show initial cause in the historical data and experiment with controls in sufficient numbers (ie: you'd be removing a couple of programs, differing randomly across the group to see if it is the program itself or the number of programs).



    Nope, no redundancy.



    It didn't in the past.




    This doesn't work so well with slips, trips and such. Safety is everyone's responsibility - oversight doesn't go all that far, other than compliance.

    Programs can be as simple as including alerts like "Make sure you use a hand on the rail when climbing a staircase" and "Don't leave your tools lying around". Other more tangible procedures can be stuff like "All tools must be brightly colored".
    When you say the number of accidents has risen, do you mean that the percentage of accidents relative to the number of workers has increased, or just that the actual number has increased? If it's the latter, that could simply be an unavoidable consequence of growth. The larger the number of people, the higher the chance some will be injured.

    I'll assume that you mean that you're having a higher percentage of accidents. If safety is in the hands of every individual worker, then perhaps you should raise the standards for perceptiveness, attentiveness, memory, and reaction time. Workers who are better at these will likely have fewer accidents. This becomes even more important when more people are involved, and one person's error could be more significant. You could also impose a harder limit on the number of hours they could work, to avoid fatigue. Increasing the frequency of check-ups to ensure that they stay in good condition, along with training about proper diet might help as well.

    So, do you believe it would be a mistake to cut some of the programs you think might be distracting the workers from larger problems that lead to accidents by making them focus on minutia?

  7. #17
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    This question brought to you by the realisation that I have been thinking about this "theoretical" problem for nearly two days.
    --
    You are in charge of a company that does construction. You have a large Health and Safety group and you keep very good track of your accidents and injuries. Over the past 20 years, you have steadily decreased them, up until a few years ago where they stabilized and have begun rising. Over this time you have implemented more and more programs, but the addition of each new program seems to have the opposite effect - an increase in injuries.

    You have 250 projects ongoing at this time, with some ending and more being added all the time. Projects operate in all sorts of environments (all over the world) and all forms of construction, however the number of people on the sites are generally the same.

    Solve: What approach should be taken in order to find the optimal level of health and safety policies, procedures, training, audits, supervision and so forth. Can you show that there is a maximum threshold of these items after which you have negative returns?

    Solve: Once concluding the optimal level of these, how do you determine relative value of each so that new processes can replace old ones if they are found to be more effective? How do you determine they are more effective?

    I have been pondering this question while I was trying to sleep. While I was killing demons on my computer. While I try to work, while I eat. I can't get it out of my head.
    You pay an independent consultant thousands of dollars to make an educated guess for you.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

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    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

  8. #18
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by athenian200 View Post
    When you say the number of accidents has risen, do you mean that the percentage of accidents relative to the number of workers has increased, or just that the actual number has increased? If it's the latter, that could simply be an unavoidable consequence of growth. The larger the number of people, the higher the chance some will be injured.
    Number per worker (number per worker hour, number per site).

    I'll assume that you mean that you're having a higher percentage of accidents. If safety is in the hands of every individual worker, then perhaps you should raise the standards for perceptiveness, attentiveness, memory, and reaction time.
    Most accidents are preventable; the same people are now having more preventable accidents, so it isn't a matter of the quality of the people. In very rough terms, the number of people has doubled in the last ten years, but the retention rate for the 1/2 half is about 75%. The increase is nearly uniform across length of service (and I believe is actually slightly higher for long term workers.)

    Most accidents are not repeat accidents from the same people.

    You could also impose a harder limit on the number of hours they could work, to avoid fatigue.
    I would agree, of course, but this doesn't explain the recent increase.

    So, do you believe it would be a mistake to cut some of the programs you think might be distracting the workers from larger problems that lead to accidents by making them focus on minutia?
    I think that I would need to show that this is the most probable reason, then propose creating test groups and show that the changes would not be threatening to the workers and then account for the ramifications if I am wrong (culture change is a big danger).

    The problem is in showing this... or rather, the problem is showing what is the root cause of the increase. I could probably prove anything with enough data - the trick is in finding the solution from vast amounts of data, not finding data to support my solution.

  9. #19
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uberfuhrer View Post
    Why is there air?
    Or, more interestingly, if molecules are bumping into each other, clearly there is space for them to move around. What is in the "around" space?

    Nothing? Can you imagine what nothing looks like?
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

  10. #20
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    I think that I would need to show that this is the most probable reason, then propose creating test groups and show that the changes would not be threatening to the workers and then account for the ramifications if I am wrong (culture change is a big danger).

    The problem is in showing this... or rather, the problem is showing what is the root cause of the increase. I could probably prove anything with enough data - the trick is in finding the solution from vast amounts of data, not finding data to support my solution.
    Based on the data, do you feel that this is most likely to be the problem/solution? Do you believe you can convince them to let you create test groups to study the problem/implications before implementing anything more widely? That would be best.

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