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Entries Tagged as 'Accident Causation'

379 - Thinking Steps Ahead

March 16th, 2015 · Comments

Greetings all, here is a short video for this week's podcast. I hope it gets you thinking!

Shawn M. Galloway
President, ProAct Safety

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Watch Now:

Tags: Videos · Leading Safety · Accident Causation

Winning in the Post-Season

February 11th, 2015 · Comments

Many sports teams who have a good season develop high hopes for a good play-off performance only to be badly disappointed.  It seems that play intensifies in the post-season when only the best teams are left and winning is contingent on more than the basics.  Safety has some similarities:  going from poor performance to better performance comes with the basics and reasonable effort.  But when only a few accidents remain per year, preventing them takes a whole new level of effort.

The biggest mistake in both these scenarios is assuming that the strategy that got you to this point will get you the rest of the way to top.  The problem is that the tools of “bad-to-good” don’t work on “good-to-excellent.”  That game plan and those tools must form the basis of your effort, but winning will take a dose of “above and beyond.”  The last remaining risks aren’t always visible to the naked eye and a whole new level of analysis is needed.  When you get rid of the obvious risks, the next level is less obvious.  When you eliminate the high-probability risks, the remaining ones are lower probability and harder to detect.  Excellence is a whole new game overlaid on the old game.  When you get to the playoffs, develop a new game plan. 

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

For more insights, visit 

www.ProActSafety.com

 

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 three consecutive times. 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).

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Tags: General · Behavior Based Safety · Safety Management · Performance Management · Change Management · Lean Behavior-Based Safety · Accident Causation · Behavior Science · Blog Posts

371 - Misunderstanding Hazards and Risks

January 19th, 2015 · Comments

Greetings all, here is a short video for this week's podcast. I hope it gets you thinking!

Shawn M. Galloway
President, ProAct Safety

1sceapp.jpg
Watch Now:

Tags: Safety Observations · Safety Communication · Videos · Leading Safety · Accident Causation

Root Cause Analysis is Machine Thinking

January 7th, 2015 · Comments

Seeking out and addressing root causes of problems is the ultimate fix for machines. If you simply repair the obvious failure, it may recur.   People are not machines!  Using root cause thinking with humans can actually make you miss the best solutions, especially in safety.  It is extremely limited thinking to look exclusively at human contribution as the problem or failure in accidental injuries.  

Human behavior is based on a complex mixture of influences and projections.  Past experience, training, analyses of job hazards, projections of what could cause injuries, and the overriding pressures to complete the work all influence behavioral choices.  A change in the weight of any of these or other influences can tip the balance of influence and change the logic of the choice.  Failure to identify risks due to low-probability or other factors play into the equation.  Simply underestimating risk probability is a growing problem.  Distractions to concentration at work are also growing as work gets more complex and technology increases the availability and amount of communication.

Rather than viewing human performance as a mechanical process, we need to see it more like a weather pattern that can be changed by multiple factors, something that needs to be forecast rather than fixed.

-Terry L. Mathis

For more insights, visit www.ProActSafety.com

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 2010, 2011 and 2012-2013. 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.

Tags: Accident Causation · Safety Culture and Performance Excellence Strategy · Safety Excellence Strategy · Blog Posts

Reporting Accident Investigation Findings

September 10th, 2014 · Comments

When you discuss the findings from recent accident investigations either in safety meetings, stand downs, or via email, what is the focus?  Do you determine the root cause and describe the corrective action taken by the organization to avoid repeat injuries?  If so, that is good but incomplete.  You should also discuss risk awareness techniques to help workers recognize developing at-risk situations and precautions that workers can take to minimize the probability of such accidents.

It is not enough that organizations learn from their accidents; workers should learn as well.  When root causes lead to corrective action, risk awareness should also lead to safer behaviors and better hazard recognition.  If you only do one of these, you are missing half or more of the potential improvement that could result from your findings.  Don’t settle for simply improving conditions or improving behaviors.  Always look for opportunities to improve both!

-Terry L. Mathis

For more insights, visit www.ProActSafety.com

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 2010, 2011 and 2012-2013. 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.
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Tags: Safety Measurement · Leading Safety · Accident Causation · Safety Leadership · Blog Posts

The Danger of Relying on Awareness

January 15th, 2014 · Comments

Awareness is an important part of safety, but it is not the only part.  Awareness is simply a step in the right direction that produces nothing without the other steps.  Further, there are also two types of safety awareness:  awareness of risks and awareness of how to manage those risks.  So, when people say that safety is all about awareness, they are missing the big picture.

Consider the following illustration:  Two people are traveling in a car and one is aware of the need for seat belts and the other is not. Neither of them buckle their seat belts.  They have a head-on collision.  Which person hits the windshield hardest, the person who is aware or the person who is not? 

The true definition of safety includes two types of awareness and one type of action.  Awareness of risks is first.  In business we call this risk assessment.  Awareness of the ways to address and reduce the risks is second and we call these mitigation and precautions.  The third step is the action step.  Awareness does not improve safety unless it results in action.

Leaders must mitigate risks where possible.  Workers must take precautions where risks still exist.  Failure to be aware results in inaction.  But inaction can occur even with awareness and can render awareness inadequate to prevent accidents.

-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 2010, 2011 and 2012-2013. 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.



Tags: Safety Management · Employee Involvement · Articles · Leading Safety · Accident Causation · Safety Culture Excellence · Blog Posts

Injuries Aren’t the Only Kind of Accidents

December 4th, 2013 · Comments

When you think about the title of this piece, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is an accident that produced property damage but no injuries.  While that is a common example of this principle, it is not the only one.  Virtually any undesired, unplanned, unexpected result of a work process is accidental.  It could be argued that anything that did not turn out as planned is an accident.  

When you think about it this way, people invest in the wrong stocks, elect the wrong people to office, and marry the wrong spouses from time to time.  We don’t blame such accidents exclusively on the stock market, the government, or dating services.  Likewise when an organization has a rash of injuries, it might not be exclusively the fault of the safety programs and specialists.

The real key to understanding and applying this principle is simply that good management must anticipate the multiple ways that processes can produce unwanted results and prevent them from doing so.  When you think this way, safety is not a touchy, feely specialty to be delegated.  It is a principle of good management.  

Managers must constantly be on guard against the ways in which their processes can fail or go awry.  Such events can be caused by people, machines, conditions, process flaws or combinations of these.  Designing and constantly improving all the aspects of business processes is the job of leaders, managers and supervisors.  Blaming workers or delegating problem areas seldom creates organizational excellence.  It is crucial to remember that when the goose quits laying golden eggs, you need better goose management: not an egg specialists.  

-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 2010, 2011 and 2012-2013. 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.



Tags: Safety Management · Performance Management · Articles · Leading Safety · Accident Causation · Safety Culture and Performance Excellence Strategy · Safety Culture Excellence · Psychology Safety · Safety Excellence Strategy · Blog Posts

Distracted Driving - Mitigating the Most Likely Halloween Risk

October 31st, 2013 · Comments

Today at work, employees and leaders alike will work hard to control risk exposure on the job. Hazard identification training will take place, new risks will be identified and barriers to safety excellence removed. The vast majority of these same individuals will leave at the end of their day to return home to go trick-or-treating with family members, or stay home to hand out candy. We are increasing our ability to identify hazards and control risks on the job, how well are we doing with Halloween?

My earliest memories of the joys of Halloween are also coupled with the horror stories of apples with needles in them, pixie sticks with PCP (Phencyclidine) or cyanide, child predators, and blades in lollipops. Many of these were myths, but there were truths as well. In 1964, a woman in Long Island, New York, frustrated with the increasing age of trick-or treaters, handed out items containing steel wool, dog biscuits and ant buttons. Thankfully she was prosecuted. In Detroit the same year, lye-filled gum made the news, along with rat-poison as treats in Philadelphia.

Today these stories persist and a new risk has emerged as the top danger of Halloween, distracted driving. According to the article, “Halloween is ‘Deadliest Day’ Of The Year For Pedestrian Fatalities” (http://www.bestplaces.net/docs/studies/halloween_deadliest_day.aspx) some concerning details were revealed based on an analysis of more than four million records in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 1990 – 2010 for children 0-18 years of age on October 31.

  • “Halloween Was Deadliest Day of the Year for Child Pedestrian Accidents
  • Nearly one-fourth of accidents occurred from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Over 60% of the accidents occurred in the 4-hour period from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.”
  • Over 70% of the accidents occurred away from an intersection or crosswalk.
  • Most of the fatalities occurred with children ages 12-15 (32% of all child fatalities), followed by children ages 5-8 (23%).
  • Young drivers ages 15-25 accounted for nearly one-third of all fatal accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween.”


Several sources recommend the following tips to help keep children safe this Halloween from the most likely risk:

  1. If wearing a mask, make sure it doesn’t limit vision
  2. Wear bright enough clothing or reflective items and carry a flashlight – and turn it on!
  3. Make sure clothing or costume accessories do not limit mobility
  4. Cross at crosswalks and intersections, not in the middle of the street
  5. Trick-or-Treat in larger groups to increase visibility
  6. If you need to drive, take a cab if consuming alcoholic beverages or are tired
  7. Do not operate a phone while driving (Teen age drivers more prone to distracted driving)


During this work day, please take time to discuss this risk and prevention options. Share these facts and tips with your work colleagues and most importantly, your family. Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” Give the power to those you care about, to help them mitigate the most likely risk they will encounter this Halloween, distracted driving.

- Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is the President of ProAct Safety and the coauthor of two books, his latest published Feb 2013 by Wiley is STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence. As an internationally recognized safety excellence expert, he has helped hundreds of organizations within every major industry to achieve and sustain excellence in performance and culture.  He has been listed in this year’s National Safety Council Top 40 Rising Stars, EHS Today Magazine’s 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS and ISHN Magazine’s POWER 101 – Leaders of the EHS World and again in the recent, elite list of Up and Coming Thought Leaders. In addition to the books, Shawn has authored over 300 podcasts, 100 articles and 80 videos on the subject of safety excellence in culture and performance.


Tags: Special Topics · Home Safety · Articles · Accident Causation · Blog Posts

Misunderstanding Hazards and Risks

October 18th, 2013 · Comments

I heard a good analogy recently about the difference between hazards and risks. “Hazards are the sharks you spot in ocean while standing on the shore. They become Risks when you get in the water.” How well do you help those you lead, understand, identify, and respond to the differences?

With good intentions, many organizations prompt activities to purposefully and proactively identify potential hazards in the workplace. While this is admirable, it becomes a complex issue when there isn’t a shared understanding of what a hazard is and isn’t, and how some turn into risk. But, not all risk will turn into incidents and injuries. Further, if there is a shared belief that “safe means zero risk and safety first”, or “safety is our number one priority”; might there be mixed signals sent?

Consider how this might be interpreted, “They say our goal is zero injuries and zero risks and that ‘safety first’ means we are controlling all the risks, yet we have brought several to management’s attention with no action!” This isn’t just hyperbole, this misunderstanding was the result of a conversation with a key union official within a client organization.   

Let’s provide some further context on hazards and risk. Wikipedia provides a good definition of hazard. “A hazard is a situation that poses a level of threat to life, health, property, or environment. Most hazards are dormant or potential, with only a theoretical risk of harm; however, once a hazard becomes "active", it can create an emergency situation. A hazardous situation that has come to pass is called an incident. Hazard and possibility interact together to create risk.” Note the key points in this, “most hazards are… only a theoretical risk of harm; however, once a hazard becomes ‘active’…”

A further search in Wikipedia provides another good explanation of risk. “Risk is the potential of loss (an undesirable outcome, however not necessarily so) resulting from a given action, activity and/or inaction. The notion implies that a choice having an influence on the outcome sometimes exists (or existed). Potential losses themselves may also be called "risks". Any human endeavor carries some risk, but some are much riskier than others.” Again, some key points to tease out: “Risk is the potential of loss… resulting from a given action”. Moreover, it points out “Any human endeavor carries some risk…”

Some safety advocates propose there is little point in debating terminology. I strongly disagree. How common language is used influences beliefs and behaviors within the culture. The English language has many different meanings for the same word. Have you ever used a word or phrase that was interpreted incorrectly? Of course you have. You know how important it is to use the correct words when communicating with your family. Why should our dialogue within safety be less important? After all, isn’t it our number one priority? Or wait, is it a core value?

- Shawn M. Galloway

Here is a short video on this topic: http://youtu.be/_BrpiL4rxgk

Shawn M. Galloway is the President of ProAct Safety and the coauthor of two books, his latest published Feb 2013 by Wiley is STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence. As an internationally recognized safety excellence expert, he has helped hundreds of organizations within every major industry to achieve and sustain excellence in performance and culture.  He has been listed in this year’s National Safety Council Top 40 Rising Stars, EHS Today Magazine’s 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS and ISHN Magazine’s POWER 101 – Leaders of the EHS World and again in the recent, elite list of Up and Coming Thought Leaders. In addition to the books, Shawn has authored over 300 podcasts, 100 articles and 80 videos on the subject of safety excellence in culture and performance.

Tags: Safety Management · Safety Measurement · Safety Communication · Organizational Safety Culture · Articles · Safety Perception Surveys · Leading Safety · Accident Causation · Psychology Safety · Leading Indicators for Safety · Blog Posts

Do Your Accidents Have Special or Common Cause?

June 26th, 2013 · Comments

W. Edwards Deming explained a basic concept of manufacturing quality by elaborating on the cause of defects.  He explained that some defects had special cause (i.e., some unusual event caused the defect to happen).  Other defects happened due to causes that are built into the manufacturing processes itself.  He called these common causes.

There is a debate among safety professionals these days about whether accidents are caused more by system issues or simply by human error.  The simple fact is that it could be either and that neither is mutually exclusive.  Your organization could be having accidents caused by either or both.  Finding out the cause is critical during accident investigations and making the distinction between common and special causes can be very useful.

This dichotomy is less useful for fixing blame than it is for fixing problems.  Special causes alert us to outside forces to guard against in the future.  We can often extend our caution beyond the specific issue to other similar risks or situations.  When a foreign object gets into a product, we can protect against that object but also explore what other objects could find their way into our processes and how they could do so.  When a special outside issue impacts safety, we can use similar reasoning to increase our awareness and precautions against such risks.

Common causes can be more difficult to recognize because they hide within our systems and influence other actions and decisions that can directly lead to defects and/or accidents.  However, it is critical to identify them because they will continue to influence risks until we see and address them.  Even what looks like simple human error can be influenced by systems issues.  This is one reason for always asking “why?” to find what may lie beyond worker decisions and actions.

Deming left us with a warning about finding out and classifying causes.  He said that blame causes fear and that fear causes the hiding and skewing of information critical to understanding causation.  We should seek first to understand and then take intelligent action based on that understanding.

-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 2010, 2011 and 2012-2013. 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.

Tags: Safety Management · Articles · Accident Causation · Blog Posts