ASP Exam Guide: Introduction to Safety Management Systems
Safety is important to employers, workers, and society for a number of reasons, but the three primary reasons are:
- Humanitarianism – We value the well being and lives of workers and those around us
- The Law – Standards and regulations drive safety compliance and punish employers who refuse to comply
- Cost – Working safely avoids unnecessary and often costly expenses.
Accident – An unexpected or unintended happening or event that causes injury, loss, or damage.
Hazard – A condition or set of circumstances that have the potential to cause an incident, injury, illness, or other loss.
Unfortunately this definition (from the dictionary) leads some to believe that these events were unpreventable. Many safety professionals are using the term “incident” due to this reason. There are two fundamental causes of incidents: unsafe conditions and unsafe acts.
Losses as a result of incidents may be:
- Injuries or deaths
- Illnesses or diseases
- Property damage or theft
- Loss of time, production, and sales
- Additional time spent on paperwork, investigations, etc.
Direct Costs – Those costs that directly cost an employer money, such as medical costs and payment for time away.
Indirect Costs – Hidden costs, such as time lost by other employees to help a coworker, time spent by safety staff, losses due to unfilled orders or lost production, etc.
Due to the prevalence of injuries in modern workplaces, safety management systems have been developed to control injuries, reduce costs, and ensure the well being of workers. Currently, the most widely recognized standard for safety management is ANSI Z10. ANSI Z10 is a continual improvement process for managing workplace hazards.
The purpose of ANSI Z10 is to provide a standardized method for designing and implementing a safety management system. ANSI Z10 requires:
- Management commitment and employee participation
- Initial and ongoing review of workplace hazards
- Implementation of protective measures using the hierarchy of controls
- A management of change process
- Incident investigations and corrective actions
- An ongoing management review process
To prevent incidents and injuries, we must recognize hazards and select preventive actions.
Heinrich’s Incident Theories
Heinrich investigated the ratio between direct costs and indirect costs and proposed that the ratio between the two is an average of 4:1, showing that the cost of an incident extends beyond the immediate costs noticed on the financial books of an employer.
Heinrich also developed an incident triangle, which illustrated the ratio between unsafe acts (300), minor injuries (29) and major injuries (1):
Management’s support of the safety management system is crucial for success. Both managers and supervisors have critical roles they play in the safety management process. Managers need to issue critical safety programs and processes and provide an expectation of safe working behaviors to employees. Often, management could develop a reward programs that rewards safe behaviors. Management also must implement reporting systems for unsafe behaviors and potential workplace hazards.
Supervisors have a more front-lines approach to safety. They should be directly involved in employee reviews, including discussions on safe work behaviors. Additionally, they must participate in safety meetings and ensure that employees are meeting safety-based objectives and following safe work procedures.