There is a reason why injury, illness and fatality rates are called trailing indicators. While we need and use these statistics (and OSHA requires the reporting of injury- and illness-causing incidents), they give us a picture of what happened after the fact. After employees have been injured. After employees have been killed.
“Recent injury and illness trends within companies and their global supply chains indicate that overall incident rate improvement has slowed and rates of fatal and serious injuries have remained steady for a number of years,” said ASSE President-Elect Kathy Seabrook, when announcing the launch of ASSE’s Risk Assessment Institute. “Clearly, a different approach is required if further improvements are to be made.”
The goal of the Risk Assessment Institute is to facilitate EHS risk assessment’s inclusion into the organizational risk process, allowing businesses to be proactive in prioritizing and mitigating risk in advance of injuries or catastrophes. The institute will:
- Educate executives on the role and value of EHS professors on risk management and the importance of risk management to their business.
- Support risk-related training and education for EHS professionals on issues related to proper risk assessment within the management process.
- Create a platform for the EHS community to contribute to the development of new evidence-based risk-related policies, process and solutions.
- Act as a clearinghouse for risk-related information and the tools needed by EHS professionals to manage risk.
EHS and risk management, need to be brought into alignment with the needs of the business community and must be shared with the business community in a way executives understand, said Seabrook.
Business leaders “assess what’s a risk to their business,” she added. “Workers are the talent of an organization. Management understands the importance of employee retention and recruitment,” so put it in terms your CEO will understand. They want to be an employer of choice to attract the best talent, and providing a safe workplace is one way to be that employer.
“If you can’t talk the language of business, they won’t understand,” said Seabrook.
With the widespread acceptance of the ANSI Z10 standard, and a new international ISO standard that would specify requirements for an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system, plus OSHA’s ongoing work on the I2P2 standard, “now is the time for a transformation of safety leadership through proactive, preventative approaches that have the potential to identify risks and enable action in advance of injury, illness or loss,” said Seabrook.