“They appear confident that what happened to other people won’t happen to them”

Looking at this story about a particular bluff in Oregon’s Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, is there an analogy to be made about research lab safety?

The “Pedestal Rock” is on a notorious sandstone bluff at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, which is fenced off and bordered by signs warning people not to go there.

Seven people have died in the area since 2009. Six fatal falls have taken place during the past two years. Rescue efforts by the local fire district and U.S. Coast Guard cost upward of $21,000 per hour, often topping out near $106,000.

Yet people continue to flood past the fence and signs. Adults, teenagers, grandparents, photographers and even parents with small children disregard the warnings.

“We’re not seeing much confusion about what the current signs and fence mean,” said Chris Havel, spokesman for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “Even people who are aware of the deaths walk right past the fence and signs into that area. They appear confident that what happened to other people won’t happen to them.” …

Starting last month, [Park Ranger Lisa Stevenson] patrols the fence at Cape Kiwanda. Leading with friendliness and facts, she looks to start a dialogue rather than a confrontation, even when people don’t want to hear it.

h/t Chemjobber

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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  1. Nature has always been, and always will be an indiscriminate executioner. (Elston, H.J. doi:10.1016/j.jchas.2005.11.001)

  2. The underlying issue is perception of risk. The behavioral people describe young males as believing they are invincible. I have seen similar descriptions in the workplace. People are aware of a hazard, but for many reasons do not perceive a risk to themselves, and thus resist, or ignore, institutional protective measures.

    This is inherently different from the “I am King” behavior we see in some faculty, who tune-out input from SME’s.

    So, Yes, the Pedestal Rock behavior and behavior we see in laboratories have similar underlying causes. I’ll leave a detailed analysis to a psychologist.

  3. People always forget the possibility of fear…Nature will take the revenge..We insisted nature to be rude on us… 🙁

  4. This is why Maury Povich will always be able to read DNA test reports and say “You are the father!”