The Heart of Safety Improvements Strategy
About ten years ago, we received a call from the corporate safety director of a global organization who was concerned about a disturbing pattern in their data: Recordable injuries were declining steadily, but serious and fatal injuries were level. They asked us to research potential causes for this difference and develop a new paradigm for understanding serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). The analysis changed our thinking about how we approach serious injuries and fatalities. Most importantly, we began to see that safety leadership should begin with attention to SIFs.
Video: A New Paradigm in Addressing SIFs
In this video, Dr. Tom Krause explains why reducing smaller injuries in the work place won’t necessarily lead to a corresponding decrease in serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs), and discusses why each category needs to be addressed and understood in a different way.
Innovation in SIF Prevention
Over the past two decades, many leading organizations have achieved consistent improvement in injury prevention. On average, US private companies reduced their injury rates by 62% between 1994 and 2014. But those dramatic reductions in injuries haven’t translated into reductions in workplace fatalities, which dropped by just 34% in the same period.
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Does Focusing on SIF Mean Ignoring Smaller Injuries?
Focusing on SIFs does not mean that smaller injuries are unimportant or should be ignored or left out. Instead, it’s an insight about the optimal strategy for preventing all injuries. Failing to differentiate between exposure to smaller injuries and exposure to SIFs opens the door to tragic outcomes, it undermines the credibility of leadership, and it misuses limited resources.
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Chapter 2: Safety Leadership Starts with Attention to Serious Injuries and Fatalities
The traditional view that preventing smaller injuries will lead to preventing larger ones has been shown to be false. The second insight into safety excellence is that safety leadership should begin with attention to serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). In this chapter, you will find that the reason for this is strategic, compassionate, and research-based.
A Case Study in SIFs
About 10 years ago, we began to hear from clients who had been experiencing very low recordable injury rates over long periods of time, but who had been blindsided by a serious injury or fatality, or both. We observed that these were not isolated cases, they were part of a national trend in which recordable and lost time injuries were declining steadily year-to-year, while serious injuries and fatalities appeared to be level or in some cases increasing. We met with a group of seven global companies to see if we could understand the problem and develop strategies to address it. This collaborative effort generated new insights for the prevention of serious injuries and fatalities with huge implications for industry.
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