Preventing fatal and life changing injury events moving forward will require a different approach than what the safety profession has been doing for most of the last 80 years. Heinrich's safety pyramid approach could only take us so far with its frequency of incidents approach. To get beyond that we must look deeper into an organization's climate (or culture) to address the precursor events that lead to those situations that have the potential to result in a fatal or life changing injury. Eastern Alliance Insurance Group, a worker's compensation insurance carrier, has developed an approach to address the critical cultural elements that must be in place to help an organization identify and address their risk factors; and implement proper controls to reduce the likelihood of fatal and life changing injuries.
Our approach to preventing fatal and life changing injury events is called N3L3 ® – an acronym we use to identify the "culture" that needs to be in place to impact the potential for bad outcomes. N3L3 is derived from "the Next Three Seconds – Protects Your Life, Your Loved Ones and Your Livelihood" ®. It combines elements like; changing the perception of an employer as to what risk is; engaging them to be actively involved in identification of their potential exposures and managing them through various deeply ingrained practices that are intended to ensure every worker is aware of what needs to be done to accomplish each task safely, and empowered without fear of reprisal to speak up when they have concerns.
The N3L3 acronym was chosen, because it would be easy for workers to remember. N3L3 is intended to define a way of thinking and a mindset to help protect workers both at and away from work. Getting workers to think through a task and consider the potential consequences before they act, because: in addition to Protecting their Life, their Loved Ones and their Livelihood; the Next Three Seconds, could be your Last Three seconds ®.
Prevention of fatal and life changing injuries requires changing how we think about risk – we must understand there is risk in everything we do; it can be negative, positive, minimal or great; but it is always there. Several key elements are incorporated into the N3L3 culture, including: understanding that the past does not always accurately predict the future when dealing with those events that seem to occur at random, conscious vs. intuitive thinking, actively assessing risks, pre-work planning, stop-work authority and root cause analysis by teams. Each of these elements must be in place to support the culture and ensure that those high risk activities (precursors) are identified in the workplace and are treated appropriately when the situations are encountered. The maturity of the safety culture is measured for each of those precursors based on the organization's knowledge of their potential risks, competency of the training for their workforce, resources dedicated to managing their exposures, auditing to ensure adherence to policies, and feedback systems to close the loop on corrective measures and integrate into the day to day operations.