Productive Safety Management is an exceptional book in the scope of its treatment of the subject, the new perspectives it provides on the nature of risks, and how it deals effectively with the involvement and interaction of people engaged in the control of risk.
The holistic theme of productive safety management is developed logically and systematically. Accident causation is discussed and the Entropy Model, a new and insightful perspective, is presented. This leads on to organizational decision making and the importance of external and internal strategic alignment for the enterprise. A critical factor identified is alignment of employee goals with those of the enterprise.
The functional operation of the enterprise is examined in four well-structured elements, and risk considerations are discussed in the context of these elements and their integration. The important functions of risk quantification and control strategy formulation are addressed competently. The human resources essentials for productive safety management are thoughtfully presented, through management commitment and leadership, training, competence, and engendering a positive safety culture, to quality assurance and behavioral audits.
The book concludes with the formulation of the productive safety management plan on a strategic basis, which includes developing risk management initiatives using the four-fold strategy presented in the first section. The strategies are appropriately complemented with performance measures.
The introduction of this book is timely in the light of the important and ongoing changes in legislation that regulates safety in both high-risk industries and industry in general. There has been a move away from detailed frameworks of standards to the more open ended 'duty of care' principles, which originally derived from the Robens Committee Report, Safety and Health at Work. These were subsequently embodied in the legislation in the UK. The Robens principles have been influential in Europe, Canada, Australia and South Africa.
Corporations and managers accustomed to operating under prescriptive laws, which changed only in detail and increasing regulatory complexity from the 19th to the late 20th centuries, have struggled to reach an adequate understanding of the full implications of the new obligations. The critical point is that the duty of care obligations are not static but become wider and more demanding with changing technology, increases in knowledge of hazards and higher community expectations. Moreover, senior corporate officers and line managers holding positions of statutory responsibility have growing concerns over the increased onus on them to direct, manage and control the corporation to discharge the legislated obligations.
The requirement to manage risks effectively is now an explicit obligation and some jurisdictions specify the framing of safety management systems to achieve these ends. Accordingly senior corporate and line management need to equip themselves with an adequate knowledge and capacity to carry out these duties and maintain productive performance in the enterprise. Productive Safety Management provides a substantial resource to widen the knowledge base, improve risk management and capacity and to more effectively involve and motivate the workforce in these processes.
Productive Safety Management will be of great interest to management and safety professionals in the USA, particularly in hazardous industries such as mining, which operates under highly prescriptive legislation enforced on a strict liability basis. A critique of this law and its enforcement was given by Laura E. Beverage in a paper at the MineSafe International 1996 Conference in Perth, Western Australia. The administration of the US Mine Safety and Health Act is legalistic and adversarial, and does not engender an ethos of continuous improvement, but rather a defensive attitude to avoidance of liability. In the USA, industry preference is to progress to the Robens style performance-based approach to risk management, and this approach is inherent in the principles of this book.
It is widely recognized that enacted law is by no means the only driver for improved safety performance by corporations. Cost imperatives (including civil action liability) are an increasingly important factor, and a range of further drivers includes corporate reputation, industry peer pressure and trade union sanctions. The overwhelming consideration is the rising tide of community expectations that reflect a better educated and informed workforce. In the past, traditional workforces in high-risk enterprises such as mining, tended to have a rigid acceptance of major hazards. As long as the potential for disaster was properly accounted for, a spectrum of serious injuries and occasional fatalities was an undesirable but inevitable outcome of working in these hazardous environments.
This outlook has been replaced by the expectation of a safe and healthy work environment in all phases of operations. Hazards and the associated risks are a challenge, but risks must be eliminated or compressed to an acceptable residual level in accordance with the principles of productive safety management. The importance of effective involvement of employees in the process is a key element, and involvement engenders their alignment with corporate goals and values.
One of the strengths of this book, over and above the values of the approach and principles, consists of the development and presentation of ideas in a format and style that will be comprehensible to everyone in the enterprise. This includes the general manager, line managers, supervisors and safety professionals, as well as general employees. It is eminently readable.
In its comprehensive treatment it offers new insights and makes effective use of models and logic diagrams to clarify these concepts. The reader is not confronted with difficult reasoning and complex algorithms. In addition, each chapter is thoroughly referenced.
Over the past 20 years, 17 of which were as State Mining Engineer heading the mining safety regulatory authority in Western Australia, I have made an extensive study of published safety material from many sources. This includes work undertaken nationally and internationally. I have also attended and presented papers at many conferences on the subject. From that perspective I believe that this book will make a substantial contribution to the body of required reading and study, and will assist individuals and organizations in the critical task of risk management.
It is not possible in a brief Foreword to touch on more than a few highlights in innovative concepts. Some examples include:
• the Entropy Model coupled with strategic alignment principles
• capacity building through effective training and the capacity reservoir
• the application of the 'reasonableness test' by management in the
introduction of systems and procedures.
The fundamentals for effective safety management are knowledge, capacity and motivation. Productive Safety Management will be an asset to any organization aspiring to continual improvement and excellence - whether mature and established or climbing the learning curve. I commend it without reservation.
J. M. Torlach