|Trish Ennis, CSP, ARM|
These results are even more troubling when we consider the findings of ASSE-Foundation-sponsored research as reported in “Occupational Fatality Risks in the U.S. and the U.K.” in the January 2014 issue of American Journal of Industrial Medicine:
Our comparison of reported work injury deaths in the U.S. and the U.K. indicates that by this measure workers are considerably safer in the latter. The disparity is large—twofold in some sectors, more than fourfold in others. In construction, the sector with the largest number of deaths in the U.S., the disparity grew larger during the last decade, from a rate that was 50% higher to a rate almost 4 times as high.Why haven’t we made greater strides in eliminating work-related fatalities? What lessons can we learn from our counterparts in the U.K.? One answer to both of these questions is OSH risk assessments. Consider the following facts:
•European Union directives have required employers in member countries to perform OSH risk assessments since 1989.
•Safety by design (also called prevention through design) is required by legislation in the U.K.
ASSE believes that a greater focus on the use of risk assessments and application of risk assessment principles is a key to improving OSH performance and reducing work-related fatalities. That is why ASSE has established a strategic objective to promote the value of risk-based OSH decision making. I’d like to share with you a few initiatives we are undertaking.
ASSE’s Risk Assessment Initiatives
Founded in 2013, ASSE’s Risk Assessment Institute is a gateway for ASSE members to share best practices, and access the latest tools and research. The institute’s website (www.oshrisk.org) offers a host of checklists, templates, forms and other resources to help us implement new practices or upgrade current procedures to better control risks.
In addition to using the available tools and resources, we must continuously improve our risk assessment skills. To help us meet that need, ASSE will launch its Risk Assessment Certificate Program Feb. 10-12, 2015, during SeminarFest in Las Vegas, NV. Featuring a blend of classroom and online learning and a final project, the program is designed to help OSH professionals learn risk assessment techniques, practice the skills we need to influence management and gain support for risk reduction efforts, and understand how to identify and report key metrics that support an organization’s objectives.
As risk assessment continues to gain business importance, ASSE is also leading efforts to bring greater attention to risk assessment through standards. The ANSI/ASSE/ISO (Z690/31000) standards on risk assessment and risk management are being adopted by organizations around the world, and the 31000 document is among ISO’s top five best-selling standards. In addition, ASSE has published a well-received technical brief on these standards (http://bit.ly/1yMMvaN). It’s also worth noting that the Z690/31000 standards are key references for the workgroup developing the proposed ISO 45001 standard on safety and health management systems because risk assessment plays a key role in their effective implementation.
A Worldwide Priority
Another interesting OSH-related news item was reported on Sept. 11, 2014. Following a meeting in Melbourne, Australia, the G20’s labor and employment ministers endorsed a statement in which they call safer and healthier workplaces “an urgent priority” (http://bit.ly/1oxQU7p). The statistics don’t lie. Work-related injuries and diseases are a human tragedy that produce lasting consequences for workers, families and businesses around the world. As OSH professionals, we must use and continuously improve our ability to identify and control risk to prevent these devastating outcomes and generate the urgent attention and action needed to create truly safe and healthy workplaces.