Occupational safety management is reflected in management’s attitude, commitment and example. Management’s attitude is illustrated by what kind of shared mindset prevails at the workplace and how occupational safety is visible at the workplace in practice.
Setting clear goals as well as taking and bearing responsibility reflect management’s
commitment. Management’s example can be seen in everything, such as in how the ‘safety first’ principle is followed and how the rules apply equally and uniformly to all employees, regardless of their position.
In a safe workplace:
- people are cared about
- all employees are valued
- employees are encouraged and spurred on to perform well
- safety is considered a value that does not compete with costs and schedules
- everyone is committed to working together to create a workplace where no one will suffer a deterioration in their health
- flawed management is not tolerated
- poor safety level and accidents are considered failures, even if the project
- is profitable.
Occupational safety concerns everyone, each individual and the whole community.
Setting goals is an important step in improving occupational safety. Investing in
the competence of the operators at the workplace is key. This includes identifying hazards, assessing risks and introducing preventive measures in the preparation and execution of work.
Safety culture reflects the attitude towards safety, hazards and risk factors
at the workplace. Safety culture demonstrates how responsibly employees, supervisors and management act in various safety matters. A good safety culture entails continuous monitoring of occupational safety: it is ensured that the organisation has sufficient resources and effective processes to support occupational safety and that employees have sufficient competence to perform their work safely.
Ensuring occupational safety at a shared workplace requires close cooperation with subcontractors and suppliers.
Occupational health and safety management systems
The occupational health and safety standard SFS-ISO 45001 provides organisations with a system that they can use to improve occupational safety and health, create healthy
and safe working conditions for employees and reduce risks at the workplace. The standard encourages commitment to safety thinking, adopting new working methods and improving interaction.
The standard emphasises the importance of leadership in particular, as occupational safety starts from management’s commitment. Senior management is responsible for better well-being at work and reducing occupational accidents. The standard also gives special weight to listening to employees and improving their engagement. While the responsibility lies with management, the entire organisation must be involved in safety-promoting activities. The benefits of the standard also include a positive corporate image both in terms of quality and profitability. Accidents and near misses cause not only hassle but also business losses.
SFS-ISO 45001:2018 Occupational health and safety management systems. Requirements with guidance for use. Finnish Standards Association SFS
Measuring occupational safety
A safe and healthy working environment and well-being at work are the starting points for high productivity and quality of operations. Measuring occupational safety is a prerequisite for successful occupational safety management. Only measurable activities can be managed.
Responsible companies also require good occupational safety management and reporting from suppliers. The management of an organisation needs monitoring data for operational development and decision-making.
The data obtained by measuring can be used for the following purposes, for example:
- guidance for safer working methods
- assessment of the efficiency of occupational safety activities
- assessment of the cost-effectiveness of measures
- verification of development and assessment of goal achievement
- selection of measures and planning of investments
- planning of training
- stakeholder reporting
- comparison and foresight.
The indicators used must be as reliable, unambiguous and easy to use as possible. The organisation must define a person responsible, a calculation and reporting method,
and a results processing and monitoring procedure for each indicator.
Characteristics of a good measuring system include:
- balance between external and internal indicators
- alignment with the strategy and critical success factors
- indicators derived from higher-level goals and indicators
- utilisation in day-to-day management
- continuous development in line with the requirements of the strategy.
In a good measuring system, the indicators are also:
- simple and focus on the essential
- available and accessible to staff
- suitable for the operations.
The purpose of the measuring system is, on the one hand, to guide day-to-day activities and, on the other hand, to assess operations in a forward-looking way. Day-to-day activities must be continuously monitored so that they can be quickly adjusted, if necessary. Assessment of long-term activities can be carried out less frequently by emphasising predictive indicators that drive to success.
Key occupational safety indicators to be monitored
Occupational accident indicators
- number of workplace accidents
- accident frequency or accident incidence rate
- rate of absenteeism due to accidents
- investigation of workplace accidents
- severity of workplace accidents
- costs caused by workplace accidents.
Indicators for absences due to sickness
- number of absences due to sickness
- rate of absence due to sickness
- reasons for absences due to sickness
- costs caused by absences due to sickness.
- safety observations
- incident and near miss reports
- safety deviations
- hazard identification and risk assessment
- occupational safety inspections and audits
- occupational safety rounds and discussions
- number and implementation rate of corrective measures
- occupational safety training
- order and cleanliness
- work ability, well-being at work and work atmosphere
- assessment of the occupational safety level and the level of the occupational safety management system.
National statistics on occupational safety support the planning and implementation of
occupational safety activities. They can be used to monitor what is happening in working life and how effective the implemented occupational safety measures are. The Finnish Workers’ Compensation Center (TVK) compiles statistics on occupational accidents and diseases that have occurred in Finland. The Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution Mela publishes statistics on accidents and occupational diseases for agricultural entrepreneurs. Statistics Finland publishes an overview of all occupational accidents once a year. Industry-specific statistics and comparison data can be requested from the workplace’s insurance company.
Development of risk assessment
Knowledge-based risk assessment has introduced a new approach to assessing risks.
There are different types of risks, which require different assessment procedures.
The essential distinguishing feature between risks is what we can reasonably assume to know about the risks.
Risks can be divided into four types based on the knowledge base:
- familiar risks
- new risks
- emerging risks
- unforeseen risks.
Familiar risks are risks that are known to have occurred and in the case of which it can be reasonably assumed that expected changes in the operating environment will not affect the risks or that the effects of the changes can be reliably predicted. New risks are associated with new methods being developed and introduced. Emerging risks are risks that have been identified but that will change from insignificant to significant over time. Unforeseen risks are hazards that are contrary to established perceptions or extremely rare or known hazards for which the magnitude of the associated risk is underestimated.
Managing new and emerging risks requires a modern risk assessment process that takes into account changes in the operating environment. Risk assessment is the anticipation of future events, the goal of which is to avoid damage. In daily risk assessment, the key starting point is to have an understanding of the activities and being aware of the situation in the operating environment, as well as being constantly alert regarding deviations and changes.
In practice, this can be achieved by developing a more risk-aware safety culture
and by seamlessly incorporating risk assessment into day-to-day work and safe