Magazine article Industrial Management

How Do Safety, Ergonomics and Quality Management Interface?

Magazine article Industrial Management

How Do Safety, Ergonomics and Quality Management Interface?

Article excerpt

Safety can be defined as that state for which the risks are judged to be acceptable. Ergonomics is defined as the art and science of designing work to fit the worker. Quality management includes the entirety of the processes that achieve customer satisfaction and preference from the products or services being provided.

A model program to achieve safety can be outlined.

For this model program to achieve safety, risk is defined as a measure of the probability and severity of adverse effects.

All risks, with which safety professionals deal, derive from hazards. There are no exceptions. Safety is achieved when the probability and severity of adverse effects, deriving from hazards, are at an acceptable level. There is no such thing as a risk-free environment.

Hazards, as a term, has broad implications and must be understood to include any aspect of technology or activity that produces risk.

Hazards are defined as potentials for harm or damage to people, property or the environment. They include the characteristics of things and the actions or inactions of persons. If there were no hazards, there would be no need for safety professionals. Hazards are the generic base of this model program.

For a profession to maintain its existence, it must fulfill a societal need. The role of safety professionals is to manage their endeavors, with respect to hazards, to serve the societal purpose of attaining an acceptable level of risk. Safety professionals are really engaged in the practice of hazards management. Hazards management:

* serves the societal need to prevent or mitigate harm or damage to people, property and the environment from hazards;

* is based on knowledge and skill from applied engineering, applied sciences, applied management and legal/regulatory and professional affairs;

* is accomplished through the anticipation, identification and evaluation of hazards, and the giving of advice to avoid, eliminate or control those hazards;

and

* has as its ultimate purpose the attainment of a state for which the risks are judged to be acceptable, which is the definition of safety.

The purposes of hazards management are accomplished through the anticipation, identification and analysis of hazards, and the giving of advice to avoid, eliminate or control those hazards. Properly done, risks in the resulting state would be judged as acceptable. So, what we call safety would be achieved.

There are three major focuses in the practice of hazards management:

* In the design processes, pre-operational--the anticipation, identification, and evaluation of hazards and the giving of advice concerning their avoidance, elimination or control;

* In the operational mode--seeking to constantly improve processes through the anticipation, identification, and evaluation of hazards and the giving of advice concerning their elimination or control--before their potentials are realized as hazards related incidents; and

* Post-incident--through investigation of the processes of events culminating in hazards-related incidents to determine their causal factors, commencing with a review of the possible impact of design decisions, and whether the design of the work or product was error-provocative.

Hazard identification and analysis are the most important elements in the practice of hazards management. If hazard identification and analysis are ineffective, all other processes will be misdirected.

Safety can be achieved only when an organization' s culture requires avoidance of hazards-related incidents. An organization's culture determines the level of hazards management to be attained. Management commitment is the sine qua non in hazards management. It is a reflection and extension of the organization's culture.

What management does, rather than what management says, is the proper measure of an organization' s culture and its commitment, or non-commitment, to hazards management. …

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