On average, 21 percent of OSHA recordable events have legitimate potential to lead to serious injuries or fatalities. By implementing a serious injuries and fatalities (SIF) prevention program, companies work proactively to prevent any incidents from happening. While incidents do still occur, SIF prevention programs have been known to lower SIF exposure, OSHA recordable rates, and lost-time rates.
Some general guidelines for implementing a SIF prevention program can be found below.
- Focus on SIF Potential
- SIF occurrences have many of the same conditions: heights, slippery walking surfaces, hazardous power sources, etc. Whenever near-miss incidents are reported, they should be investigated to determine if they had SIF potential. If it is determined that an incident had SIF potential, it should be investigated further so that conditions can be improved and made safer before an accident occurs.
- The same is true for accidents and injuries that do not lead to SIFs. Did it have the potential to be a SIF? If yes, then the accident should be investigated more thoroughly than those accidents that did not have SIF potential.
- Build Trust with Workers
- Conditions with SIF potential can exist without having led to any accidents or near-misses. This is why safety professionals need to go into the field and talk with workers. Workers know the conditions they work in better than anyone and are going to have unreported safety concerns. By talking with workers in the field and observing first-hand what they have concerns about, many safety professionals will be more inclined to fix SIF potential conditions as soon as possible. This also builds rapport between workers and safety professionals.
- This trust that has been built between workers and safety professionals empowers workers to continue to come forward with their safety concerns. They will not fear that they will be ignored or punished because their concerns have been taken seriously before. Also, they may be more likely to try and stop a hazard in real time before it leads to a near-miss, accident, or SIF. They know their safety is important to those above them, so they will not hesitate in slowing or stopping work for the sake of their own safety.
- Upper Management Gets Involved
- Worker safety is not just between workers and safety professionals. Upper management can and will have to get involved. Maintenance, repair, and improvement projects require more approvals than safety professionals have the power to give; and oftentimes, any new or improved safety programs will need upper management approval and support as well.
- Safety professionals can do everything they can think of to improve safety, but they will get almost nowhere without support from those above them. Workplace safety should be everyone’s concern, not just the concern of safety professionals and those in SIF potential conditions.
A great companion to a SIF prevention program is a preventative maintenance program. For steps on creating and executing a preventative maintenance program, check out How to Create a Preventative Maintenance Program.
References: Preventing Serious Injuries and Fatalities ~ Health & Safety Magazine