The Five Pillars of a Highly Effective Safety Management Process
The five pillars will support continued excellence in operations as well as provide a framework for achieving excellence in workforce safety.
- By Peter Furst
- Feb 01, 2021
Most businesses face the possibility of worker accidents and potential injuries. In all likelihood, they have a safety department or an assigned person to oversee and manage such possible outcomes. Traditionally, the management of safety involved complied with the company safety program. The bulk of the program pretty much regurgitated the safety standards as promulgated by the relevant State or Federal jurisdiction. Some organizations may add additional requirements to this program based on specific risks, past experience or other relevant considerations.
There were two significant pieces of governmental legislation which impacted the approach to occupational accidents and the associated attention to and management of worker injuries. The first was the enactment of workers compensation legislation by various states starting in 1911, with the last one adopting it in 1948. This brought about some level of improvement in worker safety, but the need for greater uniformity throughout the country as well as further reduction in accidents lead to the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act by the Federal Government in 1970.
Traditional Safety Management
With the passage of the workers compensation legislation, worker accidents and the resulting injuries had financial consequences for their employers. This created the need to understand why workers were getting injured on the job, so as to allow management to intervene in order to reduce the number of accidents and therefore control their related costs. The industry got its answer when H. Heinrich proposed the domino theory of accident causation. The theory proposed that injuries resulted from a number of interrelated and preceding factors.
Heinrich proposed that injuries were the result of a series of events that happened in sequence, and the removal of any one of the preceding events would stop the injury from occurring. He proposed five elements to this series. An occupational example:
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.