Reflections out loud25 March 2019
/ by Aldo Avancini /
Aldo Avancini this month looks at standards from his personal viewpoint.
I recently participated at a meeting – or better ‘attended’ is perhaps more correct, as it was not possible to ask questions to the speakers – on the subject of safety applied to a specific sector, i.e. rides. I left with some reflections that I would like to share with you.
The first concerns the considerable emphasis placed on the term “standard”, which is increasingly repeated even in the face of concepts that I believe should not be discussed, at least among technicians. For example, say that before manufacturing a “standard” needs to be followed, which requires a request for authorisation, permits and the like, this to me does not seem to be aimed at safety (if not the administrative type for the customer/designer).
But leaving aside every aspect that is not directly technical, I would like to underline how some concepts are not completely incorporated into everyday work.
In our sector, in particular the position of those who propose this concept is quite widespread: “Follow the standards and you will be safe”. This statement clashes against 3 fundamental pillars, namely:
(1) the fact that it is compulsory to design, build, and so on, everything in a workmanlike manner, the consideration remains that having applied internationally accepted and tested standards or codes, there is no requirement to show that you have done things in a workmanlike manner. And this is certainly a consequent facilitation;
(2) there is an “indeterminacy” that derives from an overlapping of standards – and often this overlap is important and the standards involved are also important – which is not easy to resolve. In fact, I should say it is easy to resolve with common sense and professionalism, but almost always common sense and the propensity to take responsibility do not go hand in hand and are not shared by all professionals;
(3) finally, care must be taken not to become what I define as a “technical notary public”, but at the same time not always look for a standard. To explain this last statement I can say that “standard” derives from the need to ‘control’ something that takes place in public, and therefore until the standard is issued, all the players involved are by definition not following the rules.
To explain with an example: if I fish using a bow and arrow, and I make this into a popular sport, the need to regulate this sport will arise after the first unavoidable incidents, with the consideration that until the standard or regulations are published, no-one is actually following the rules! However, the feeling remains that everything must be seen as a function of passing something, be it a test, an inspection, an audit and so on. Is it not more correct to apply the concept that if we permeate our work with the normal sense of a family father in applying the various laws that are currently in force, maybe we would all work better?
For example, I have not heard about that “performance approach”, which places so much attention on many aspects, however, and above all pre-empting that of people’s safety, without however excessively limiting design freedom. Risk assessment is presented as the mastiff that controls everything, while in my opinion it should be considered as the positive foundation that allows, during design, to take into account the events, possible risks arising, their probability and their possible consequences.
Taken from Games&Parks Industry March 2019, page 84
Ing. Aldo Avancini / Proposta Srl / firstname.lastname@example.org