My State:
Free Special Reports
Get Your FREE Special Report. Download Any One Of These FREE Special Reports, Instantly!
Featured Special Report
Claim Your Free Copy of 2018 EHS Salary Guide

This report will help you evaluate if you are being paid a fair amount for the responsibilities you are shouldering.

In addition, EHS managers can find the information to keep their departments competitive and efficient—an easy way to guarantee you are paying the right amount to retain hard-to-fill positions but not overpaying on others.

Download Now!
Bookmark and Share
June 08, 2018
Safety 2018: Where are you in the transition to risk?
By Timothy P Fagan, Senior Legal Editor - EHS

Workplace safety is evolving as safety professionals seek to shift the philosophy of their organizations away from one of basic compliance to one based on reducing risk. At the American Society of Safety Professionals’ (ASSP) Safety 2018 Conference and Exposition being held in San Antonio, Texas, Pam Walaski, Health and Safety Director for GAI Consultants, Inc., shared her insights on shifting to a risk-based safety program and offered five simple steps to get the transition started.

For a Limited Time receive a FREE Safety Special Report on the "50 Tips For More-Effective Safety Training."  Receive 75 pages of useful safety information broken down into three training sections. Download Now

boygovideo/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Why shift to risk?

According to Ms. Walaski, data indicates that reducing the frequency of injuries will not reduce the severity of injuries. So by focusing on the lagging indicators and attempting to reduce the total number of reportable injuries, safety professionals are not adequately reaching the most serious issue, which is to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries (FSIs). The shift to a risk-based safety program must change the focus from reducing the frequency of injuries to reducing the severity of injuries. A risk-based safety program identifies the situations or tasks that have the potential for high severity injuries (i.e., FSIs) and adequately managing those risks. Not only is this better for the worker, but it is better for the company, because according to Walaski “occupational safety and health (OSH) risk management is business risk management,” and that is a language that company management understands.

It’s a big change. Where do you start?

For companies that have been historically focused on safety compliance and reducing the number of injuries, the transition to a risk-based safety program can be a difficult one. But you have to start somewhere, so Walaski offered these five tips to begin the transition of your organization to a risk-based safety program.

  1. Become the risk expert in your company. There are many American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and ASSE (now ASSP) standards dealing with risk; learn and become fluent in these standards. Also, network with other risk professionals.
  2. Remove the words “OSHA says….” from your vocabulary. Obviously, complying with applicable regulations remains important but you must begin to frame conversations in terms of risk rather regulations. Start communicating this way and it will begin to help the workers and management change the way the way they think.
  3. Find and promote one leading indicator. Safety has historically been defined by lagging indicators (e.g., injury rate), but these indicators have no correlation to reducing FSIs. Identify useful leading indicators for your organization, and slowly begin the transition from lagging to leading indicators by introducing these leading indicators one at a time.
  4. Use the data. Analyze the data for your facility and industry and identify the precursors to FSIs in your industry. There is no way to manage these risks until they are identified.
  5. Find champions of risk within your company. Figure out which people are willing to engage in and promote the discussion of risk, and it does not have to be safety risk. It can be any type of business risk. These people may prove to be critical to promoting the transition to a more risk-based safety philosophy.

The transition from a compliance-based safety program to a risk-based program may not be a quick or easy one, but it is one that will result in a safer workplace. You have to start somewhere, and these tips from Ms. Walaski will help get the ball rolling.

Featured Special Report:
2018 EHS Salary Guide
Twitter  Facebook  Linked In
Follow Us
Copyright © 2021 Business & Legal Resources. All rights reserved. 800-727-5257
This document was published on
Document URL: