Strategic Safety Measures: Seven Key Benefits
- Earl Blair (Eastern Kentucky University)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- February 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 32 - 39
- 2017. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 85 since 2007
- Show more detail
- Safety measures that are strategically planned and effectively implemented can greatly improve performance and influence the development of safety culture.
- This article defines strategies for measuring the safety issues that matter most and highlights the expected benefits of deploying strategic safety measures.
- It discusses practical applications of strategic safety measures for consideration in selecting and implementing the best safety measures for an organization. Seven benefits of strategic safety measures are analyzed.
The culture of an organization can be partially defined by the collective practices employees follow (Hopkins, 2005). People’s practices within organizations are strongly influenced by management’s expectations and the specific measures it implements. Manuele (2014) notes, “Safety is culture driven, and the board of directors and senior management define the culture and the system of expected performance” (p. 144). The safety measures chosen promote management’s expectations regarding safety performance. When these measures are well executed, they have a powerful influence on the development of an organization’s safety culture (Blair & O’Toole, 2010).
Strategy, Safety & Measure Defined
Strategy is a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period. Synonyms include blueprint, game plan, road map, scheme and system.
Strategic is defined as relating to a general plan that is created to achieve a goal in war, politics, etc., usually over a long period.
Safety is defined as “the control of recognized hazards to achieve an acceptable level of risk” (Lack, 2001, p. 89). Conklin (2012) provides a practical definition of safety: “Safety is not the absence of events; safety is the presence of defenses” (p. 8).
One component of the definition of measure (n.) is an estimate of what is to be expected of a person or situation. Synonyms include expedient, means, move, shift, step and gauge.
Strategic Safety Measures Defined
Strategic safety measures are related to the concept of leading indicators. The term leading indicators has not been clearly defined in a way that has been broadly accepted in the safety profession. Manuele (2003) suggests considering the following elements for leading indicators offered by various speakers and writers:
- Having defined the problems, through analyses of hazards and risk assessments, leading indicators are those actions that point you to where you want to be in relation to the problems identified.
- Leading indicators are the quantifiable measures of the efforts being made to prevent accidents.
- Leading indicators are measurements linked to actions taken to prevent accidents; trailing or lagging indicators are measurements linked to the outcomes of accidents.
- Leading indicators are those safety activities that favorably impact on trailing indicators, and thereby validate the financial business case for the efforts being undertaken.
- Leading indicators are the performance drivers that communicate how outcome measures are to be achieved. (Manuele, 2003, pp. 438-439
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