September 01 2019
By: Terry L. Mathis
From the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, many organizations worked hard to improve safety. They improved workplace conditions, provided more sophisticated PPE, and created or expanded safety rules and procedures. The result was fewer accidents. The remaining accidents tended to be less severe but stubbornly continued. Safety efforts shifted directions and began to focus on worker behaviors and low-probability risks. Behavior-based safety in all its variations and other processes were developed to address those types of accidents. The problem was that the new emphasis on minor accidents often reduced focus on major, high-severity accidents that we now call SIFs. While minor accidents decreased, SIFs did not keep pace.
Now that most organizations are highly focused on SIFs, we could potentially reverse this problem by taking emphasis away from lower-severity potential accidents. We need to be able to expand our focus to address both ends of the accident spectrum and not continue to be one-trick ponies who simply traded tricks.
Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.