Measuring (un)safety. A broad understanding and definition of safety, allowing for instant measuring of unsafety

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Abstract

Industrial safety performance has, for a long time, been the domain of health and safety specialists, measuring injury and absenteeism rates to discover patterns and trying to prevent accidents from happening. The drawback of this approach is that safety is reactive to accidents, mostly caused by operations. As a result, safety (performance) has become the reverse side of operations (performance) and is often seen as a hinderance in making the best possible profit for organisations. However, now already for a period of time, industries have become aware of the possible benefits of a more proactive approach towards safety. Therefore, increasingly more organisations are looking for more proactive methods in measuring and achieving safety performance. As a result, in recent years, important efforts have been undertaken to improve the understanding of safety culture and safety climate and how to measure these concepts in organisations, for instance in the process industry and chemical plants. Likewise, substantial efforts have been made to determine and develop a wide range of leading and lagging safety indicators that can reflect and predict safety performance. While developing leading indicators and making culture measurements are helpful, they both measure safety conditions indirectly. Because, an organisational culture or climate can be regarded as a specific indicator of a possible future performance, in the same way leading safety indicators aim to predict the future. Yet, little tools are currently available for the instant measuring of actual safety conditions and performance in organisations, providing information that allows for benchmarking between different sectors and industries. Nevertheless, when safety and its opposite “unsafety” are carefully defined, it becomes imaginable to develop tools that instantly measure the safety performances and actual safety situations in organisations so that they can be used for benchmarking regardless of sector or industry. In this article we will expound this way of thinking, based on an original paradigm about safety, unsafety and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-258
Number of pages6
JournalChemical Engineering Transactions
Volume77
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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