What do safety stats not tell us?

August 28, 2014

Photo credit: Louise Docker on Flickr

Photo credit: Louise Docker on Flickr

What exactly is safety – and how can we measure it?

Traditionally safety is viewed as a lack of injuries and fatalities. But let’s stop for a moment and see it for what it is – not what it isn’t.

Instead, let’s picture safety as “the presence of positive capacities, capabilities, and competences” of the people who work for employers, as Dr. Sidney Dekker put it in his talk at CHC Safety & Quality Summit in March 2014 in Vancouver.

The thought-provoking author and professor of human factors will be back on Friday, Sept. 19, at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where he’ll speak before an audience of CEOs, senior managers, and safety professionals from large corporate entities in construction, health care, utilities, transportation, forestry, and mining.

“It’ll be a rare and unique opportunity to hear him speak for a whole day!” says Jenny Colman, an Ergonomist/Human Factors Investigator with WorkSafeBC’s Investigation Division, who told me about this professional development event – A Day With Sidney Dekker – hosted by BC’s Lower Mainland Chapter of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering.

“Sidney really promotes understanding the situation in which the workers work, because those contextual factors really influence the decisions and actions of the workers. His session will ensure that participants query/question current safety practices/perspectives and extend their thinking to new dimensions in safety management.”

Here are some of the “take-home” benefits:

  • Understanding of how safety is socially constructed
  • Understanding of how and why work is performed
  • Understanding of a “just culture” and accountability
  • Better able to conduct effective incident investigations and recommendations
  • Better able to understand complex systems and how risks can emerge from individual parts of a system to form new risks

Is it safe here?

One idea that stayed with me is the different ways we can look for the presence of safety at a workplace. Dr. Dekker suggested in this video that we count peer reviews, debriefings, open conversations, and a “just culture” which recognizes humans make mistakes within a larger context that includes many factors. Of course it’s important to measure what does go wrong, but let’s see new ways to measure what’s right and build on them (which applies in other areas of life, too).

Safety is personal: an employer’s story

August 20, 2014

“It doesn’t matter what you have written down in a book. If that doesn’t translate into something real with the people you are responsible for, as a business owner, it means nothing,” says Mike Honeyman, a business owner who describes how his employee was seriously injured at work. He had written a detailed OHS program – as required – but that wasn’t enough to prevent what happened.

“Go and grab your people,” he advises other employers in this new video from WorkSafeBC. “Sit them down and talk about safety. Let them know it’s something you really care about.”

What do safety stats not tell us?

Traditionally safety is viewed as a lack of injuries and fatalities. But let’s stop for a moment and see it for what it is – not what it isn’t.

New rules rolling out on BC resource roads

“What we’re aiming to do is standardize channels across the province, so truckers will only have to program their radios one time – ever – and then they will have all the channels for roads in BC, regardless of where they operate.”

Safety vests keep drivers visible

“Its important to take your own safety into account and not do it because somebody else is telling you to do it. Because obviously each driver wants to get home safely at the end of the day.”

Watch out for heat stress at work and play

Chances are, if you’re quick enough, symptoms can be gone in about 30 minutes. But without early treatment, a person can develop heat stroke that could be fatal.

How do you know your respirator fits?

A properly fitted respirator protects workers from exposure to dusts, viruses, and other airborne contaminants. That’s why ensuring a good fit is very important.

More training available for dementia care

Training focuses on “person-centred care” and aims to cut the risk of violence to workers, while enhancing quality of care for elderly, disabled, and terminally ill patients.

Student safety video winners for 2014

It creates a ripple effect when one student makes one video – from their own personal experience of researching it, writing it, and once they have a script, casting it and acting it out – a generation speaking to itself.

What is a safety huddle and why have one at work?

“It isn’t a meeting. It isn’t training. This is just a quick touching of bases to make sure everyone knows what they need to know, so they can get on the same page. “

Measuring noise levels with a smartphone

Do smartphone apps have enough accuracy to collect and document noise exposure data? This is a question received many times by NIOSH noise researchers – so they did a pilot study to find out more.