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The Physics of Safety?

Is the following true?

The risk of a safety incident occurring, Rs, is inversely proportional to the proximity to physical safety, Pps, multiplied by the proximity to cognitive safety, Pcs.

Examples of physical safety include equipment, processes, and tools such as safety glasses, protective gloves, fume hoods, respirators, hazardous material accumulation areas, exits, etc.  Examples of cognitive safety include the functions of the working memory such as remembering biosafety training, self-checking for safety before taking a reagent off the shelf before performing a lab procedure, looking for the “near miss”, listening to one’s instinct, mindfully working to prevent lax patterns of behavior, etc.

Proximity can be thought of in terms of the distance between you and the tools of physical safety (e.g., how far is it to my safety glasses?) and the time between you and the mindfulness of cognitive safety (e.g., when was the last time I took a moment to recall potential pitfalls like fire, inhalation, contact risk, etc., that could result in injury and then adjusted my behavior accordingly?).


Please comment.


Inspired by the mathematics of David X. Cohen et al.

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