Safety leadership starts with attention to fatality & serious injury (SIF) prevention #2

A review of injury and illness data shows that Total Recordable Injuries have been trending downward for the past several years, unfortunately, fatalities are staying the same or in some industries rising. 

We need a richer understanding of how work gets done. We need to consider the context in which the employees cope with the hazards and assess the organizations capacity to deal with the high-risk work.  

Insight: Safety leadership starts with attention to fatality & serious injury (SIF) prevention.  Research shows that high-risk activities such as energy isolation, working at height, confined space account for 71% of fatalities and serious injuries and only 17% of minor injuries. A sampling of 300 injuries showed that 64 had the potential to be SIF. Thus, reducing serious injuries requires a different strategy than minor injuries.  We need a richer understanding of how work gets done. We need to consider the context in which the employees cope with the hazards and assess the organizations capacity to deal with the high-risk work. 

Comment: This data is consistent with my experience. Once organizations take the time to:

  1. assess the recordable injuries on the potential for SIF, and
  2. assess near hits and observation data associated with the high-risk tasks on the potential for SIF,

most organizations will shift their focus.   

In most cases, the majority of investigation efforts are spent on incidents that do not have the potential for SIF and very little investigation resources are spent on SIF that do not have an immediate consequence, however, they have a high potential for SIF. Thus, an adjustment is necessary.

This is another area that integrates well with Human & Organizational Performance.  The drift model is a great tool to use proactively to assess the high-risk work and identify how the workers are managing the gaps before an incident occurs. This provides leaders with a clear picture of reality.

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