Organizations that pursue strategies to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities have reached a level of maturity in their safety management systems that allows them to identify the most serious risks to workers.
The Campbell Institute, the global Center of EHS Excellence at the National Safety Council, has released a new white paper, Designing Strategy for Serious Injury and Fatality Prevention – the second in its series on this emerging safety trend. The report shares the perspectives of 11 Institute member and partner organizations on a variety of topics surrounding the development of their serious injury and fatality (SIF) prevention strategies and long-term goals, including metrics, tools, communication, and performance.
“We’re finding that organizations pursuing SIF prevention strategies have reached a level of maturity that goes beyond focusing on near misses and injuries to identifying the most severe risks,” said John Dony, director of the Campbell Institute. “Organizations working on SIF prevention are on the leading edge of protecting their workers. With workplace deaths at their highest levels since 2008, we want to share these best practices widely to save more lives.”
Institute members define a serious injury as a permanent impairment or life-altering state, or an injury that – if not immediately addressed – will lead to death or permanent or long-term impairment. SIF precursors are high-risk situations where controls are broken, absent or not obeyed. For example, working at height is not a precursor, but working at height without fall protection is a SIF precursor.
Gathering and analyzing quality data is a crucial step in developing a SIF prevention strategy. Incident management systems that empower organizations to capture, track, investigate and report on all incidents and near-misses, including injuries and illnesses, allow them to easily determine their SIF potential. Collecting good data requires training staff to complete detailed incident reports, collect observations, conduct audits, collect all the data and interview employees about their experiences on the job.
To ensure SIF prevention program goals are being met, Cambell Institute members focus on five areas: processes, procedures, assessments, checklists and training. Communication about the SIF program is spread through traditional channels, but members are focusing on changing the conversation during safety meetings or leader walkarounds. For instance, starting safety meetings with questions about SIF exposure and risk: “Have we had any injuries that had SIF exposure potential?” This helps shift thinking to the most severe risks.
All members that participated in the paper said that since implementing SIF prevention plans and measures, they have seen a reduction in risk and severity. However, they also acknowledge this is cautious optimism, as there is more work to be done and always room to improve.
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