Safety done right

There is a movement underfoot in the corporate management and perception of safety and risk. Safety and risk are at the head of every company’s list, but how many of them truly understand these concerns enough to pay them more than just lip service? Thanks to SAFEmap, the answer is more and more.

SAFEmap is a progressive and innovative global safety consultancy firm that focuses on risk competence, safety commitment and culture change—the three aspects that if understood, present the safest possible working environment.

IRJ spoke with Mr. Corrie Pitzer, President and CEO of SAFEmap and a globally recognized leader in the field of safety management, about the phi­losophy behind this emerging movement.

Mapping out attitudes to behaviour and risk

Many companies measure safety by the absence of accidents, and most companies tailor their risk and safety training towards what Pitzer cites as the, “three E’s of safety: Engineering (the hazards out), Education (of workers in the skills, rules and procedures) and Enforcement (policing for com­pliance and applying discipline when not).”

The reality of when safety management is not adequately applied is something that Pitzer knows first-hand. He was just starting out in Hu­man Resources at a mining company when it fell to him to tell a woman that she had lost her hus­band in an accident at the mine. This experience has stayed with him and has been instrumental in his taking on a position in the mine that over­saw safety training.

SAFEmap was founded in Australia in 1992 and has expanded to offices around the globe to meet the needs of international clients. Pitzer’s background in psychology makes him uniquely equipped for the job of elevating safety manage­ment. SAFEmap is focused on changing human behavioural attitudes towards safety and risk.

“We have developed unique concepts for safety. The traditional focus on safety is to avoid the reoccurrence of an accident. At SAFEmap, we have developed a way to help people develop the skills and abilities to see risk in their environ­ment,” Pitzer says.

“The most recent approaches to safety…had a dramatic impact on the way safety was managed around the world, but is still falling short on a number of key aspects, most notably the area of risk cognition and risk compensation. Many workplace accidents occur simply because the risk was unidentified, underestimated, not understood or ignored.”—The Management of Behavioural Risk, Pitzer

The question of how to prevent unidentified, underestimated and misunderstood risk is one that SAFEmap answers. The company offers the tools and techniques which a client can use to analyse and change safety culture through their profile assessment and advanced root cause analysis of accidents.

SAFEmap has designed specific tools based on a client’s particular needs and the overall program consists of a safety leadership program which will result in the implementation of a “value change.”

“A key area for SAFEmap is the inspirational safety leadership program. We have been in touch with the University of British Columbia are going to be part of their continued education. The University of Queensland will present the inspirational safety leadership as part of their leadership course,” Pitzer explains.

SAFEmap is certainly garnering high recogni­tion for what they are bringing to the field.

The containment of risk

The key to SAFEmap is the recognition that risk is inherent in the work place, particularly for the types of industries their clients stem from, such as mining. SAFEmap uses a unique risk-based safety approach called SAFEmap SMART which educates employees to develop risk compe­tency in workers, and therefore reach the goal of increasing safe behaviours. Risk management is also a growing field, and SAFEmap is develop­ing a division that will focus on this area called RISKmap.

One of the things SAFEmap comes across in the consulting field is an archaic view of safety. The prevalent philosophy is the rewarding of so-called safe behaviour. However, Pitzer explains that the results of rewarding accident reduction are counter-productive. Sometimes less accidents are reported in order to receive the reward but the accidents do not necessarily cease.

“One of the things we prioritise is the contain­ment of risk,” Pitzer says.

The company tackles the reality of work­place accidents, rather than these reward-driven schemes which threaten to mask them.

SAFEmap is providing a very important service and is quickly taking on more and more high-visi­bility international projects.

“Our long term goal is to be recognized as leaders in safety that leads to business. We like to promote and develop skills in organisations so that safety leads their thinking and innovation,” Pitzer says.

It goes without saying that workplace safety is important to all employers. SAFEmap is finding ways to help companies perceive their workplaces as dynamic environments. This shift in perception has already been empirically proven to reduce the number of accidents that are inevitable in any environment with variables presented by virtue of having humans in them.

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