NSC Publishes Guidelines for Serious Injury and Fatality Prevention

Serious injury and fatality prevention is dependent on effectively identifying and controlling risk.
Serious injury and fatality prevention is dependent on effectively identifying and controlling risk.

The National Safety Council’s (NSC) Campbell Institute – Center of EHS Excellence recently released details of two frameworks described as “a new direction for research on leading indicators” for serious injury and fatality (SIF) prevention.

In a white paper titled, Serious Injury and Fatality Prevention: Leading Indicators, Cumulative Risk and Safety Networks, cumulative risk assessment and social network analysis are proposed as SIF prevention frameworks. The research involved a working group tasked to define a set of key leading indicators relevant for SIF prevention and interviews were conducted with nine Campbell Institute member organizations as the basis for the white paper’s recommendations.  

Representatives from organizations interviewed shared details about their data collection efforts and analysis strategies, leading indicators related to SIF prevention, leadership and employee engagement around SIF prevention and the challenges their organizations have faced. Foundational elements were identified for a leading indicator program and a list of leading indicators for SIF prevention and explanations were given for how safety networks are critical to an expanded approach to risk assessment.

Research also revealed that SIF prevention is dependent on effectively identifying and controlling risk. The white paper suggests that as organizations mature along their safety journeys, risk assessments must also take a more sophisticated form. Single hazard risk assessments are appropriate for some situations, but others may involve interactions between two or more hazards. The white paper recommends that hazards should be assessed together to accurately measure risk and determine if the situation may result in a SIF.

Additionally, the white paper notes that social network analysis is a long-standing, empirically founded framework referenced among EHS professionals but has not been formally identified. Elements from social network analysis can be used to measure and analyze leading indicators for SIF prevention through the development of cumulative risk assessment modeling. The advantage of a network approach, according to the white paper, is that it considers how people interact with each other rather than only how they interact with the EHS management system.

“Organizations must avoid complacency and approach safety and risk assessment as ongoing, evolving issues,” says Katherine Mendoza, director of the Campbell Institute. “We know that strategic thinking and organizational culture are the most important indicators of successful SIF prevention, so if organizations think beyond their current solutions and seek opportunities to constructively communicate with one another regularly, we will save lives.”

Using network analysis and a cumulative risk assessment strategy does not necessarily solve issues related to SIF prevention, the white paper notes, adding that “strategic thinking and organizational culture might be the most important indicators of successful SIF prevention.”

It concludes by saying, “these concepts build a foundation of expanded understanding and encourage organizations to think beyond current solutions for evolving issues.”

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