Three has been a lot of dialogue lately about high-severity accidents. Some have questioned the basic assumptions of people like Herbert William Heinrich that tended to think that all levels of severity come from the same risk pools. Several research projects have focused on severe accidents and sought to determine their root causes and find strategies to prevent them. The real danger in focusing on topics like this is that we tend to lose the balance of our safety efforts. We tend to focus either on the highest frequency accidents or the highest severity accidents and not on both.
While the majority of severe injuries result from process issues that are usually covered by rules and procedures, and the most frequent accident tend to be more personal and involve worker behaviors; there are exceptions to both. It is crucial that we achieve compliance with regulations and our own rules and procedures while encouraging and empowering workers to go “above and beyond.” If we take our focus off one kind of risk while we work on another, we do so at our workers’ peril. Even mundane risks can sometimes result in unusually severe injuries. A behavioral approach should not take effort away from compliance efforts. While we strive to better understand both our severe and our frequent accidents, we should balance our efforts to prevent both types.
-Terry L. Mathis
Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS’ in both 2010 and 2011. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence, 2013, WILEY.
Greetings all! Probability is a factor that masks risks from many workers. This video explains how low-probability risks look ok when they are really not. It does so without criticizing workers for not seeing these hard-to-understand risks and the importance of avoiding them. ProAct Safety provides more strategies in the area of safety culture and safety excellence in the public domain than any other firm, organization or association. For access to increased, advanced value in the form of videos, podcasts, public workshops and seminars, please visit www.ProActSafety.com/Store
You can either watch the video here at www.SafetyCultureExcellence.com or you can watch it below from YouTube.
Greetings everyone, I wanted to share with you a new workshop we have created to help you further improve your safety culture and performance and achieve safety culture excellence. To see the currently scheduled dates and locations around the world, please visit www.proactsafety.com and click on the events tab. If you would like information on a private workshop, seminar, keynote speech or consulting, contact us at info @ proactsafety.com This particular workshop is titled: Using Near-Miss Data For Successful Loss Control.
Between the recent articles in safety publications and the capsizing of the Costa Concordia, there is a renewed dialogue among safety professionals and others about accident causation.In the first third of the last century Heinrich proposed, from his observations of accident reports, that 88% of all accidents were the result of unsafe acts, 10% from unsafe conditions, and 2% from undetermined causes.One author recently refuted this, mainly citing the tendency to blame employees for accidents when much of the “cause” was due to systems issues controlled by managers.
While there is validity in looking beyond human behavior, there is great danger in overlooking it and its critical role in accidents.We should always look at the “why”, but we can’t forget the “what.”It looks like we have opened the door to a whole new set of terminology around what has been traditionally labeled “immediate cause,” “underlying cause,” “root cause,” and “contributing factor.”If changing terminology or consolidating terminology helps prevent accidents, I am all for it.
From the discussions on line, there may be a need for better developing the talking points around accident causation.It is hard to synergize solutions when it takes 1200 comments in a LinkedIn group just to get everyone agreeing on terms.
The main point that must not get lost in this discussion is the fact that behaviors , regardless of what causes, prompts, or influences them are critical to risk control and, thus critical to accident prevention.We have assumed a lot over the years about what causes human behavior and how to change it.However we approach it in the future, we must not forget it.If a driver swerves into the other lane, the probability of an accident just dramatically increased.THAT is human behavior.
Now, how do we keep drivers in their own lanes? That is the next level.We err when we think that changing the influences on behavior will automatically and completely and immediately change behavior.If we don’t change behavior, we have missed the mark or are shooting at the wrong targets.It is not about blame, it is about prevention.
If we forget this basic premise as we strive to better understand its causes and influences, we are taking a step forward and falling hopelessly backwards.We need to understand the next level of causation or influence or systems issues or whatever we decide to call it so we can use it to shape behavior, not forget it.