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. It is the second in the institute’s 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.
A serious injury is one that results in permanent impairment or a 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 complied with. For example, working at height is not a precursor, but working at height without fall protection is.
“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.”
Gathering and analyzing quality data is a crucial step in developing a SIF prevention strategy. Many members have global systems and archives that allow them to easily look at prior incidents and near misses to determine their SIF potential. Collecting good data requires training staff to complete detailed incident reports, collecting observational data, and talking to people about their experiences on the job.
To ensure SIF prevention program goals are being met, 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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