Have you done an analysis of the hazards in your worksite and cross-referenced those hazards with related workers-compensation losses ove the last couple of years?
If not, if you had 100 percent of safety resources available to you, and you note that 5 percent of the hazards are high-risk, and 95 percent of them are low-risk, how would you allocte thsoe safety resources across yoru worksite?
If you have done the research, would your answer to the above question be the same?
Vladimir Ivensky is betting that it would not.
In his Professional Safety article about risk and hazard perceptions in the workfroce, he broaches the topic of deploying resources at a level that is consistent with the level of risk and severity of the hazard, and instead he notes that often the opposite may be true.
Toward the end of his article (which we have been recapping in decent detail over the last several posts), Ivensky talks about the proportio of resources that should be used to combat high-risk hazards, and what reality just might be in some organizations. And why would this be wrong? It might be similar to investing – you may make a mistake if you don’t account for risk.
In other words, it can be easy (or maybe lazy?) to allocate resources evenly across the board to combat all hazards, not taking into account the level of risk of the hazards. And when you don’t take risk into account, you end up wasting your resources. He uses an example of a global company that he researched.
What he found in his research about workers-compensation losses by this large company was that 85 percnet of the financial losses in workers-compensation claims came from just 2.5 percent of the hazards in the company.
In other words, the company misallocated its safety resources, not accounting for higher risks. The idea of proportional deployment didn’t work in this sense. Because of this, Ivensky postulates that companies should deploy resources perhaps in reverse proportion to the risk.
In othe words, the higher risks should get more resources. Instead of a 90-10 approach one way, where 90 percent of resources go to low-risk and 10 percent go to high-risk hazards – to save the company money and lives, might it be better to deploy resources with 90 percent going to the top 10 percent of risks, and 10 percent to he other 90 percent?
Maybe that exact proportion isn’t ideal in your situation, but it can at least be a jumping-off point to think about when you consider how to allocate your resources so that you can keep your workers alive, safe and minimize your time- and expense-loss events. Committing a lot of resources to sprained ankles and twisted backs takes away the resources that could have prevented a broken skull from a fall or severe burns from a chemical spill.
Having different perceptions abut risks, hazards and controls aren’t inherently bad. It’s OK to not give into “groupthink.” But you have to be careful about the levels to which you disagree in perceptions, and it can be costly if you make a mistake in assessing a risk, hazard or control. It is always best to work conservatively in these regards – overestimate a risk slightly, overhype a hazard by a smidge, and overcontrol by a hair.
Get an honest assessment and analysis of all your hazards and risks, and get feedback from various levels of the organization to get the various perceptions, and find that middle ground and err slightly on the side of safety. Understanding the various perceptions you have will help just as much as your training in understanding actual risks and hazards to deploy adequate resources. Perception does matter, and don’t let anyone else tell you differently.