Safety Management Systems Performance Evaluation

Analysis of unsuccessful safety programs indicates that they have the following three common denominators:

  1. A lack of understanding of the accident/loss problem even when at times it is potentially severe enough to cripple the enterprise. There is a tendency to rationalize the problem and ignore it. The people think that they have no problem to solve; therefore, no action is taken against it.

  2. A lack of objectivity and planning as to what must be done about the problem when it is recognized because the risk is miscalculated.

  3. A lack of leadership and adequate coordination to implement an available safety program designed to control recognized problems.

Of these three common denominators, the third one (lack of leadership and coordination) has proven to be the most important. When strong safety leadership and coordination are provided, the other problems are overcome and accident/loss experience improves.

Safety Management Systems Performance: What are the problems?

Business management, reacting to legislative, insurance and other pressures has traditionally measured safety performance by their results in terms of injury experience and related costs. While this is indeed one form of measurement, it is a crude one at best, because the points of measurement are the symptoms of undefined failures in the safety management systems.

Ten common problems with non-implementation of safety management systems by first line supervision and management levels above the first line are that they:

  1. Don't look for existing or potential hazards

  2. See a hazard and accept it as is

  3. Don't recognize the hazard

  4. Underestimate the risk of a recognized hazard

  5. Don't systematically inspect all areas of the workplace for hazards

  6. Don't have written safety procedures (Job Hazard Analysis) for jobs having high risk potential hazards

  7. Do develop procedures/JHAs but they only deal in generalities and are not specific

  8. Don't systematically investigate accidents and incidents to identify their source and/or cause.

  9. Don't systematically follow through to ensure control actions are completed

  10. Don't analyze hazards to identify the indirect factors WHY they exist.

Primary Elements of an Effective Safety Management Program

It is beyond the scope of this presentation to consider every possible element of an effective safety management systems and how they can be measured. It goes without saying that sound management principles such as setting goals, standards and measurements should be applied to the total safety and health effort.

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