Humans and risk in our constantly changing world

Over recent years, the world as we know it has experienced substantial change and instability.  Whether attributable to a pandemic, social unrest or non-conventional forms of violent or disruptive behaviour (known as asymmetric conflict), such behaviour can include demonstrations, right-wing racial violence (hate crimes) and activities by militant environmentalist groups.

Changes have been most evident in areas of security and safety and through ongoing fluidity, often causing humans and indeed populations to move in unprecedented and unknown directions where a possible drift toward normalisation of deviance can result.  It is important for security and safety leaders to understand and address these "human-based" issues to assist maintain social order, meet security and safety objectives and effectively contribute to productivity across workplaces.

Now is the time to review security and safety systems across workplaces and the ongoing effectiveness of the existing approach.  Many systems have been developed prior to or with little consideration to the prevailing COVID-19 conditions. For example, many workplaces now operate with a combination of remote and on-site workers who flexibly attend work and often struggle to understand the implications associated with virus transmission through close contact (direct) or touching contaminated surfaces (indirect). 

There is a plethora of information available online including health advice and COVID-19 plans. However, how health advice is operationalised through an organisation's security and safety policy, security and safety plan, general guidelines and operating procedures is not always apparent or carefully thought through.

Of course, COVID-19 is only one of many considerations in a constantly changing world. The protection of assets, safety of workers and maintenance of critical services are challenges to name a few. Risks need to be contextualised in consideration of work-related risks. If the context is wrong the outcome of any assessment will be deficient and stakeholders unnecessarily exposed. An essential element to be addressed are the human factors in a constantly changing world, especially as the research evidence consistently discloses "humans" are the potential weakest element within any system of security or safety.