Safety professionals must routinely make effective decisions based on available information. This paper describes the weighted scoring decision making (WSDM) method, and includes a case study at a manufacturing plant to demonstrate how the technique provides an analytical evaluation of several computerized occupational health and safety (OHS) information management systems. First, the weighted selection criteria were identified along with their merit factor levels and scores. Each candidate information management system program was then evaluated based on the selection criteria provided by the safety engineer and occupational health nurse (OHN) of the organization. The authors discuss the development of a spreadsheet application of the WSDM method to assist the safety manager/engineer in evaluating and selecting from numerous candidate management systems.
Safety professionals routinely face responsibilities and challenges to reach a satisfactory level of certainty in a dynamic workplace. One of the main responsibilities, and most difficult challenges for safety professionals, lies in making safe, effective, and sometimes quick decisions based on available information. Effective recommendations and decisions made by safety professionals not only help establish, promote, and maintain a safe environment for all employees, but also contribute to keep their organizations success in a competitive market. Successful safety managers integrate information, their experience, and proven techniques to provide a systematic framework for their decision making. This process must be able to predict potential undesirable outcomes of their decisions. Safety literature provides a variety of decision methods and their applications. Roland and Moriarity (1990) discussed several methods including the Delphi method, committee decision method, metric matrix hierarchical analysis, game theory, payoff matrix reduction, minimax-maxmini decision criteria, regret decision criteria, and multi-attribute decision making. Gentile, Rogers, and Mannan (2003) developed a fuzzy logic-based measurement of inherent safety (index) to help model uncertainty and subjectivities inherent in evaluating data with quantitative and qualitative variables.
One of the fundamental, effective, and technical tools available for decision making processes is the WSDM method. This method provides a disciplined subjective approach for considering multiple criteria when selecting a rationally favored choice from a field of candidate choices (Clemens, 2002). The approach is applicable to any physical project (simple components, products, machines, processes) or management system (information systems, computer applications, system designs, analytical approaches). The WSDM has been used to evaluate commercial off-the-shelf software selection (Kontio, 1996). In the chemical process industry, the method has been implemented to identify the most desirable chemical process option (Hendershot, 1996). For safety applications, the method can be implemented when evaluating many issues (e.g., safety solutions, PPE, and training modules).