September 06 2021
By: Shawn M. Galloway
Is 'how well risk is managed' in your organization a leading indicator on your scorecard? If not, here is an idea. We should always begin with effort to engineer risk out. We also know that not all risk can be completely eliminated, so in the 1950s the Hierarchy of Controls was created. It has evolved to six levels, more commonly known by five (NIOSH). But to capture everything, I'll use the six levels (NFPA70E): Elimination, Substitution, Awareness, Engineering Controls, Administrative Controls and PPE.
If you were to run a Pareto analysis on the safety actions taken, corrective (after an event) or proactively against the Hierarchy of Controls, what percent would fall where? This is the action a client took several years ago. I teach that safety excellence is the ability to get and repeat great results, knowing precisely what is leading to those results, with a cultural mindset further improvement will always be possible.
Hearing this, with a concern EHS leadership had that they weren't as good as executive leadership thought they were, they ran this Pareto. They did not find that 80-90 percent of the effort was elimination or substitution efforts. Rather, now with data, they could show senior leadership the effort was largely more paperwork and PPE to control the risks, leaving significant opportunities for human error. This yielded several things - better insight into how lucky they were, a business case to free up more capital for safety engineering, and a new leading indicator to drive performance and risk-reduction throughout the organization. Don't just measure results. Also measure the drivers of your results and better investigate your success for an increased confidence in sustainability.
"One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions" — Grace Murray Hopper
Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 650 podcasts, 200 articles and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow and Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers.