More controls creates more risk?

Over at his excellent blog, Chandler Howell referenced an interesting risk analysis performed by a home inspector:

"The power switch for the garbage disposal in the sink could be accidentally turned on by a person standing at the sink while their hand was in the disposal."

That is to say, the switch is right next to the sink.

I thought about this, and realized that I preferred that situation in the “risky” state.

We joked about this in the comments a bit, and I toyed with suggesting that the convenient but 'risky' switch simply be augmented with a second, further-away, model. Of course, that would be pointless, since the second switch would always be left on. Clearly, a garbage disposal is not the sort of thing that two people operate cooperatively.

Anyway, I read a CNN.com news story today that reminded me of how added controls can increase risk. It seems that Rye Playland, a popular New York amusement park, promised to add a second attendant to a ride in which a young child had been killed in 2004. The county-owned facility did not do so, but nonetheless had a second attendant on hand during a shift changeover. Unfortunately, one attendant turned on the ride while the other was still assisting some customers. The latter attendant was thrown from the ride and killed.

I should note that the news reports are uniformly confusing, stating that a second attendant was required but not present. OK. So what would this second do, check to see that the first didn't notice any unbuckled passengers? There was, in some sense, a second attendant, and it was she who was not buckled in. Fatigue may have played a part, according to a local TV report.

Maybe a two-switch, two-person solution is worth investigating in this case.