The disciplines of Safety Management and Risk Management are often thought to be independent. It is the goal of this article to not only dispel that notion, but to further the idea that they are essentially the same discipline with comparable goals. By better understanding both disciplines, an integration of the two can, and should, occur which will allow for overall better management of risk and a reduction in workplace losses. Integrations are after all, inevitable. Witness the merging of the once independent disciplines of Environmental Management, Safety Management and Occupational Health Management from the 1970's and 1980's to become Environmental Safety and Health in the 21st century. Which leads to the most important point of the article, and that is, Safety Professionals are in the best position to take over these integrated duties and lead their organization(s) in their efforts to identify, analyze and manage risk better than anyone else in the field.
The problem currently, even though it may not be widely recognized, is that the two disciplines, Safety Management and Risk Management, are not generally working together, however they are seeking the same goals and outcomes. Their common goals are reduced losses and more efficient financing of these losses leading to overall better operational efficiencies. This leads to duplicated, or overlapping, efforts that are inefficient and expensive. Further, this confuses executive level management about the true value of each department/discipline thus reducing the value and effectiveness of each. By integrating these combined efforts into a single department operating efficiencies can be gained and costs reduced.
To better understand the hypothesis of this article the disciplines of Safety Management and Risk Management must be reviewed and compared. This is hardly a complete analysis or comparison of the disciplines, rather a simple overview touching on the major components of each.
The goal of both disciplines is to reduce losses. A loss is defined as "an unintentional mishap that does not stem from the organization's intentional act."1 Or in more simplistic terms, "an unintentional event that costs the company money." This can include property damage, injury to people, environmental damage/liability, loss of income (including loss of business opportunity) and/or loss of human resources. While Safety Management does not always view losses in exactly these terms they do try to reduce these same losses. By comparing the Safety Management and Risk Management process we see further similarities.