March 2, 2009 | Mark Paradies

WILL BLAME IMPROVE SAFETY?

There IS more to learn from accident investigation than “inadequate risk assessment.”

A safety consultant was fired and fined  £1000 after an accident at a rock quarry in England. For the UK HSE press release, see:

http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=393622&NewsAreaID=2

This seems like the typical EU approach (risk assessment should prevent all accidents). Root cause analysis seems to be finding the party that performed the risk assessment and blaming them.

I’m not trying to imply that risk assessment is worthless or that the particular consultant was not at fault. What I am pointing out is that the accident (stonemason falling off a tipper truck) was not addressed by fining the consultant for overlooking inhaling respirable silica during stonemasonry.

Perhaps there were other root causes discovered and actions taken that weren’t discussed in the press release?

By the way, here is an excerpt from the company’s safety policy:

It is the company’s view that most accidents can be prevented by adherence to these policies and by all concerned taking a positive approach to safety. This approach requires, in particular, that as a company we ensure that:

– safe methods of work are adopted at all times,
– safe and healthy working conditions are provided,
– all statutory and company safety regulations are conscientiously observed,
– all accidents (whether or not resulting in injury) are carefully recorded and reported,
– steps are taken to identify and eliminate the cause of all accidents or to take effective preventative action,
– employees receive the necessary instruction and training in safe methods of work and the safe, efficient operation and maintenance of plant and equipment,
– employees are made aware of hazards and the proper steps are taken to prevent injury or ill health,
– the correct safety equipment and protective clothing is provided in good working order or condition and is properly used,
– regular liaison is maintained with other parties involved (external contractors, clients etc) where health and safety matters are concerned,
– all places of work and future operations will be evaluated to assess potential risk, and formally recorded in accordance with current legislation, and these findings are to be made known to all those persons who may be affected.

With my experience at Du Pont, I particularly noticed the part about “…most accidents can be prevented…“.

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Root Cause Analysis
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