A great number of resources are used by companies to create a safe and healthful workplace. Strategies are defined, programs are written, processes and equipment are assessed, audits and inspections take place, measurements are taken, and results from any number of metrics are analyzed and reported to management and employees in order to drive continuous improvements in injury and illness reduction.
This presentation describes an innovative methodology for fatality and serious injury (FSI) risk assessment and reduction. It explores the key challenges and success factors that have been identified during its global roll-out of the new approach to risk assessment of activities related to higher hazards in the workplace.
The solution integrates a uniform manner to risk characterization, prioritization, and management with a systematic evaluation of safeguards, controls and layers of protection (LOP) for all common hazard identification inputs. This method is applied to the evaluation of incidents, near misses and potential hazards.
Hazard risks are systematically prioritized based upon the analysis of the holistic effectiveness of all intended safeguards. This look at all LOP, safeguards and controls is used to define the most effective and efficient improvement strategy when gaps are identified. When improvement steps have been completed, a final hazard risk characterization is performed so that overall risk reduction can be quantified.
Corporate policies in all cases require that we work to maintain safe & healthy operations that comply with applicable rules and standards. The process described here is designed to help identify and prioritize improvement opportunities, and reinforces the well-established advantages of engineering controls over administrative and PPE. Its use is especially helpful for understanding the need for additional LOPs for high hazard activities.
Through on-site workshops, data analysis and frequent communications, this practical approach to risk management of activities associated with higher hazards has been rolled out on a global scale to sites across the corporation and has become a key tool in hazard management used by the sites.
The business benefits to be obtained from employee engagement are huge. Studies have shown that (a) where employee engagement was low, those companies had 62% more safety incidents (Harter et al, 2006), and (b) where employee engagement was high, engaged employees were five times less likely to experience a safety incident, and seven times less likely to have a lost-time safety incident (Lockwood, 2007) than non-engaged employees. Similarly, the more employees are engaged in enhancing the reliability of plant and equipment, the lower the maintenance costs are, with correspondingly lower incident rates (Reliability Center, 2009). Thus the economic argument for employee engagement in safety is beyond dispute.
Employee engagement is an approach designed to help ensure employees are committed to an entity’s goals and values, while motivating people to contribute to that entity’s success. Such entities tend to possess a strong and genuine value for workforce involvement, with clear evidence of a ‘just and fair’ culture (Reason, 1997) based on mutual respect between the entire management structure and the workforce. The key aspect is ensuring an understanding by all concerned that engagement is two-way to decide on the best way forward and act together to make it happen: managers deliberately reach out to engage with employees to focus on issues of importance (e.g., safety), who in turn proactively and positively engage with management. In sum this means creating a genuine partnership between management and the workforce to improve performance in a specified domain.
Creating a Safety Partnership
A safety partnership is defined as:
Leadership, managers and front-line associates jointly focusing on safety and proactively working together in a business entity to minimize the possibility of harm and maximize safety performance.
Creating a genuine safety partnership, therefore, means management and the workforce jointly working toward achieving common and understood safety goals, with clear and consistent communication, efficient monitoring and reporting, and decisive action to investigate blockages and taking the appropriate corrective action as needed. Neither management nor employees can bring about good safety performance on their own. Management, for example, relies on their employees to report potential or actual incidents, follow procedures, work safely, etc. Similarly, employees cannot improve safety on their own. They rely on management, for example, to set the direction for action, develop supporting safety policies, develop appropriate procedures, release the necessary resources to enact the policies, and complete any corrective actions, etc. As such, both managers and employees must recognize that safety is a social activity where everyone has to work together as a team (Cooper & Finley, 2013). Moving from a traditional ‘command and control’ model of safety to one where safety is done with people, not at people is challenging, and takes a consistency of purpose, focus, and execution from all concerned (Cooper, 2008).
Psychosocial risks are a challenging issue in occupational safety and health. They have an impact at several different levels: the individual, the group or organization, and even nationally and globally.
Problems caused by psychosocial risks are not usually a simple consequence of work. However, employees spend a large proportion of their lives at work, and this means that it is important for organisations to promote a good work/life balance to help employees achieve better quality working lives. It would also be useful to stop the differentiation between 'work' and the ‘rest of living.’ Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) professionals can help by raising awareness of psychosocial risks, carrying out risk assessments with the involvement of both managers and workers (as psychosocial risks are related to how work is organised), and supporting improved wellbeing at work.
If a problem is just viewed from a medical point of view, then the solution usually focuses on medical treatment. It may therefore be more appropriate to view health as a continuum rather than a dichotomy. A bio psychosocial model, which considers the worker, their health problem and their environment, both at work and home could be more useful.
OSH practitioners should therefore advocate a holistic, proactive approach to managing psychosocial risks, working in partnership to:
Promoting wellbeing can also offer health and safety professionals a fresh approach to getting health and safety on the agenda. It can help to increase business performance by engaging and motivating employees, improve recruitment and retention and address sickness absence and associated costs. It also provides good opportunities for health and safety professionals to work more closely with other professionals and to develop their own competence. An example of this co-operation can be seen with the IOSH/HWL Train 2015 Challenge, which aimed to raise awareness and improve understanding of psychosocial risks in the workplace.
The title of this presentation might sound like heresy to many safety professionals. The title was purposefully selected to be provocative, and begin to change the way many safety professionals address the subject of “safety culture.” One can open almost any issue of well-known safety publications, such as Professional Safety, EHS Today, IS&H News and Occupational Health and Safety, and find one or two articles describing how to achieve a strong safety culture. This presentation takes issue with the concept of an independent strong safety culture. The premise we are putting forward is that in order to achieve world-class safety performance, safety must be integrated into the overarching culture of the entire enterprise. In other words, safety has to be part of the DNA of the enterprise, not something appended to it. Think about it. Does an enterprise have a separate HR culture, quality culture, cost culture, customer service culture, etc., or are these critical elements embodied in the overarching organizational culture? Great enterprises have a single culture that includes all of the critical elements just listed, including S&H.
The culture of an enterprise is driven by the values of the enterprise, and the values of an enterprise are driven by the senior leadership of the enterprise. Therefore, safety must initially be embraced as a corporate value before it can be part of the enterprise’s culture. The S&H function of an enterprise can work tirelessly to improve safety performance, but if safety is not considered a critical or strategic value of the enterprise, these efforts will not permeate and influence the enterprise.
Fire sprinklers are generally described as approximately 97% effective in controlling fires. Studies will vary, depending the author and data set that they have available to them. While this is an interesting statistic, several factors enter into this figure.
The data sources used in calculating these numbers come from reported incidents. Unfortunately, many fires are adequately controlled or extinguished, and are not included in the data used in the analysis. Also, the data set is usually a loss that meets a threshold, and is reported to an insurance company that maintains a statistical database, or is otherwise reported. The unfortunate problem is that those fires which are not controlled are detailed on page 1 of the following day's newspaper, but those fires controlled with minimal damage may not be noticed or reported at all. So, with that in mind, the effective rate of fire sprinklers is difficult to accurately quantify.
However, with all the difficulties in quantifying the failure rate, the cold hard fact is that, although rarely, fire protection failures do occur. And many times the failures could have been prevented with a minimal effort and due diligence. One of the most effective ways of determining potential failures and correcting them is through a thorough self-inspection program. The program should be conducted weekly, with some items checked on a monthly basis. This is in addition to inspection services performed by your sprinkler contractor.
Most potential latent failure conditions can be observed and corrected prior to a fire incident. If no fire occurs, any deficiency in your fire protection system continues on, day after day. But, when a fire occurs, the deficiency may have a significant impact on the outcome of the effectiveness of the fire protection system. Many of these latent failure conditions may be eliminated with regular and diligent fire protection inspection programs and a written impairment program.
While 29 CFR 1910.1450, Occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories may not apply to your facility, it contains invaluable lessons in chemical hygiene. Chemical hygiene, by definition, addresses specific hazards that come from working with chemicals, and delves into topics such as how to protect workers from harm, limit occupational exposure, set down a list of requirements for use, and how to inform employees of rights and obligations. To this end, the general scope and application of 1910.1450 presents a practical, thorough, and intensive criteria which could be followed by any health and safety department.
The Standard sets an outline for a chemical hygiene plan that includes, but is not limited to, integrating a Hierarchy of Controls, ensuring equipment is maintained and used correctly, instituting prior approvals for hazardous chemicals, designating a hygiene officer, and finally, establishing provisions for the replacement (or elimination) of known health hazards such as toxins, poisons, carcinogens and reproductive risks. In the event known health hazards cannot be avoided, then requirements are introduced for their management by means of designation of use areas, carefully labelled waste collection, and equipment decontamination.
Chemical Hygiene in Accordance with 1910.1450
Let’s briefly review a typical Hierarchy of Controls – engineering controls, administrative controls, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They are always presented and instituted in this order of importance, for logical and sensible reasons.
Engineering a person safe means designing systems such that the employee no longer has to think about the safety of their overall environment. This typically equates to adequate air flow (exchange) in the work environment. You will recall, that of the four means of exposure to a health hazard (injection, absorption, inhalation, and ingestion), inhalation is the primary means of introduction. The passive act of breathing is the most precious thing to protect. Of course, no finely tuned engineering system is adequate to protect someone who is using safety equipment incorrectly.
As professionals, managers or engineers working in the field of safety at work, what we want is a work environment with no accidents. But we have to perform in an area where absolute perfection is rarely achieved, and we have to expect that risk will sometimes arise from a hazard (equipment failure, negligence or inattention of a worker, a bad maintenance program, lack of knowledge, etc.). Even when the risk is very low, an accident could occur. This can be a troubling thought for many people, and especially for those dedicated to prevention.
We know that risk can never be entirely eliminated from an activity unless the activity is completely stopped, and we must prioritize certain prevention activities over others to maximize security. In this paper, the author presents some practices in risk management that can help in making choices that ensure the best possible safety level for workers.
How can managers and professionals reach acceptable and tolerable levels of risk? In our personal lives, public policies or workplaces, can we use concepts like probabilities, the precautionary principle, ALARA, or acceptable risks to justify the risk level we can morally and legally accept? Safety should be more about putting energies on known and proven dangers than on eliminating hypothetical and rare risks.
As we all know, the resources that can be devoted to health and safety are not infinite. We have to be able to advise stakeholders to focus less on eliminating minuscule, hypothetical risks that distract workers and employers from the known and proven threats. We must intensify our efforts in prevention, but we must also help the management team to make the best decisions possible and act where it counts and where we can expect the best results in safety.
Workplace safety requires a systematic approach that includes an understanding of risk factors and identification of hazards. Worker fatigue has been identified as a risk factor for both acute and cumulative injuries. Research has shown that physically demanding work, characterized by forceful exertions, prolonged duration, repetitiveness, and their interactions, places high stresses on the body, which in the absence of rest can result in fatigue (Kumar 2001). Fatigue and incomplete recovery can lead to decreased capacity that can result in an increased risk of injury and a decline in work efficiency (Kumar 2001, de Looze, Bosch, and van Dieën 2009, Visser and van Dieën 2006). In addition, fatigue contributes to accidents, injuries and death (Williamson et al. 2011). For example, up to 20% of transportation accidents may be attributed to fatigue. Over $300 million in lost productivity time in US workplaces can be tied to fatigue. Significantly reducing the incidence of fatigue-induced workplace injuries and lost productivity depends on the accurate and timely detection of fatigue.
Although the term fatigue is commonly used, it has come to refer to many concepts in occupational safety and health. In order to manage and mitigate fatigue and the associated risks, it is essential to understand the different types and components. Fatigue is generally accepted as resulting in the impairment of capacity or performance as a result of work. However fatigue is multidimensional, either acute or chronic, whole body or muscle level, physical or mental, central or peripheral. In addition, it includes a decline in objective performance as well as perceptions of fatigue. Of added importance are the roles of sleep and circadian function. Each of these aspects of fatigue do not occur in isolation, but interact to modify worker capacity and injury risk. Both mental and physical fatigue can result in poor decision making, which may result in an acute injury (Williamson et al. 2011). The risk of injury is dependent on both the injury mechanism and the characteristics of the work being performed. Parameters of importance in the development of fatigue, and subsequent risk, include the length of time-on-task between breaks, work pace, and the timing of rest breaks (Williamson et al. 2011).
There's a wealth of evidence supporting fatigue as a demonstrated risk to both health and safety. For moderate and high risk environments, a strong business case can be built to justify comprehensive management of fatigue risks. We have evolved within health and safety to the point where proactively managing non-physical hazards, such as fatigue, is recognized as good business sense. So the question remains:
Why are the majority of organizations in North America still not effectively managing fatigue as a hazard?
To truly understand the relative inertia in dealing with fatigue, one needs to both understand the barriers that currently exist and recognize the importance of managing the hazard of fatigue across all levels of operations. Fatigue is a hazard that can exist at the worker level, due to worker health issues or workers improperly prioritizing sleep, as well as at an organizational level, when fatigue risks are inherent within the scope of operations. Recognizing the different sources of this hazard allows for comprehensive and effective mitigation strategies.
As North America is not the first to have recognized or moved toward managing fatigue issues, there exists a myriad of proven best practices that can be used to effectively manage fatigue. What is currently lacking in many companies, is the awareness of the need to assess existing risks to proactively manage fatigue; and the best practices available to assist in successfully implementing these targeted management strategies. Different strategies are needed for low, moderate and high levels of fatigue risk exposure.
Properly managing fatigue in a high risk environment typically involves multiple levels of control, implemented with strong education and training, to allow for a cultural shift in existing safety management. This shift can only be accomplished through awareness and knowledge at all levels of the organization. This safety culture shift often starts with health and safety professionals able to understand fatigue issues and bring forward comprehensive plans to their organizations to effectively create change.
This paper addresses the use of safety management techniques to effectively identify and control electrical hazards relating to non-utility work performed near overhead power lines. Incidents involving power lines can be reduced when hazards and risks are effectively identified and appropriate controls are developed and utilized. Specific areas addressed in this paper include the following:
Overhead lines are not “telephone wires” as is often stated. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injury (CFOI) data shows that contact with an overhead power line is fatal in 70% of reported cases, a percentage much higher than other types of occupational fatalities. A detailed National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study of the CFOI data from 1992- 1998 showed that there were 2,287 electrical fatalities during the study period and that 50% were related to contact with overhead power lines. Cases involving mobile equipment contacting overhead power lines constituted 17% of total cases. Cranes (5% of total cases) were the single largest mobile equipment category followed by boom trucks (4%), dump-bed trucks (2%), drill rigs (2%), concrete pumper trucks (1%), material handling augers (1%), and all other mobile equipment (2%). In contrast, underground, buried power lines were involved in 9 (0.4%) of total fatal cases.
Current OSHA regulations require employers to take precautions when cranes and other boomed equipment are operated near overhead power lines. This paper addresses the electrical hazards associated with this work. Also addressed are the electrical hazards associated with rigging and moving loads by ground personnel.
Any overhead power line must be considered energized until the owner of the lines or the electric utility company confirms the lines have been de-energized with a visible opening, applied personal protective grounds and tags, and has confirmed that no possible sources of induced voltage are present in the work area.