Improving Safety with a Risk Management Focus
The responsibility of safety personnel must change from being a worker focus to becoming a risk and safety consultant to management.
- By Peter Furst
- Jan 28, 2021
Depending on the nature of the business, they may possibly face some or all of the following accidental losses involving property, income, liability and injury to employees. Risk management professionals are responsible for managing these risks. Those who are in the risk management arena know all about avoidance loss prevention, loss reduction and retention when it comes to dealing with various risks faced by their organizations. When it comes to managing the risk associated with employee safety, the risk manager usually looks to the safety department or safety manager to address that area.
Safety management traditionally focuses on complying with the governing safety standards as promulgated by the state or federal jurisdiction. From this emanates the organization’s safety program, processes, procedures and practices. The focus of most safety programs revolves around the prevention and/or reduction of injury and illness involving the organization’s employees. The safety program starts off with a statement professing to value the employee and wanting to provide them with an injury-free workplace. The body of this program usually is a regurgitation of safety standards. Some of the more developed programs may also include specialized subprograms dealing with driving for the company, dealing with the public, substance abuse, etc.
Traditional Safety Program Shortfalls
One of the deficiencies of the traditional approach to safety performance management is the fact that most of the major interventions emanate from the evaluation of data regarding the previous year’s accidents and injuries experienced by the workforce. The source of this information is from internal accident investigation reports or data provided by brokers or insurance carriers. This analysis then establishes interventions to be utilized during the coming year to reduce the accidents and resulting injuries.
One of the shortcomings of this approach is that the improvement strategy is based on historical data, and the future is never exactly the same. Another issue is that generally the interventions are all focused on changing the behavior of the workforce by more training, retraining, emphasis of certain program elements, more rigorous inspections or though incentives or punishment. In the short term, these may result in some improvement, but in the long run, the results never live up to expectations.