Aggregates Manager

September 2014

Aggregates Manager Digital Magazine

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Page 31 of 39

AGGREGATES MANAGER September 2014 30 Research shows that most accidents are caused by at-risk behaviors, which is where safety programs can make real strides. by Zach Knoop Proper Focus on Safety Put the I f you surveyed a group of safety professionals and asked them what percentage of accidents are caused by conditions and what percent- age are the result of at-risk behaviors, you would likely get a response of about 10 percent conditions and about 90 percent at-risk behaviors. There are numerous studies that validate similar percentages. Yet the Mine Safety and Health Ad- ministration (MSHA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continue to focus the vast majority of their resources toward the enforcement of regulations that primarily focus on conditions. Whenever there is a spike in injuries and/or fatalities, as we have seen in the mining industry recently, the response is typically a combi- nation of more standards, enhanced enforcement, and an increase in penalties. This is not a new trend. In 1971, Dr. Dan Pe- tersen, an industrial psychologist and arguably one of the most influential safety professionals in the areas of safety management and theory, wrote in his book, Techniques for Safety Management, "Govern- ment safety organizations continue to focus on the physical to improve safety. We know that things don't cause the majority of accidents; it's bad behav- iors." Forty-three years later not much has changed. Relying on any government safety organization to improve your safety system and safety perfor- mance would be, as Petersen might say, foolish, because the majority of accidents are not the result of conditions, but rather the at-risk behaviors of workers. However, when it comes to accident pre- vention, where do we in the aggregates industry focus our resources? We spend far more time find- ing and fixing the 10 percent of the conditions that result in injury and largely ignore the 90 percent related to behavior. To turn the tide, we must look first to the root causes of those behaviors. With his assertion that behaviors drive most inci- dents, Petersen was not suggesting that employees intentionally take risks in order to get hurt. No one begins a day's work with the goal of getting hurt. Rather, the risky behaviors are a symptom of the management system in place. All employees have certain attitudes, beliefs, and ideas about safety. These beliefs can be a product of personal risk tolerance. For example, some people find bungee jumping to be risky, while others do not. Beliefs are also shaped by life and work experiences, influenced by upbringing, societal factors, and industry expo-

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