From: Daniel Kuespert <0000057d3b6cd9b7-dmarc-request**At_Symbol_Here**LISTS.PRINCETON.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Seeking subject expert
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2021 10:35:42 -0400
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU>
Message-ID: 17FF1A0B-D9D5-4A1A-A093-A19B87EBDD12**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <000001d71b9b$244c73f0$6ce55bd0$**At_Symbol_Here**>

=46rom my own experience, I would say that zero always should be the public goal (or aspiration or whatever), while safety personnel and management should be at least informed by the possibility that zero might not be attainable given the stochastic nature of health & safety.

I remember that shortly after I arrived at my first job out of graduate school, a researcher at an industrial R&D center, the site vice president called us together for a "communications meeting." Safety was the first topic on the agenda (so far so good), but the VP went on to say that his goal for the quarter was four recordable incidents. I remember immediately thinking, "why isn't it zero?" and being disappointed in how he demonstrated his attitude toward safety.

I'm sure the VP wasn't trying to be discouraging, but I felt it as such. Four recordable incidents wasn't an unachievable goal for the site; they'd just had a quarter of 16 incidents, due in part to a landscaping crew driving into a hornet's nest or something similar. He probably set 4 as his goal in consultation with the site industrial hygienist, but he didn't really think through how communicating that goal would come across to the rank and file such as me.

I recognize that communicating zero as a hard goal is likely to backfire if it is not achieved. In some circumstances, it can inhibit reporting of injuries/illnesses and close-calls. Nevertheless, I think it's essential for management and safety personnel to convey that they care sufficiently about the workforce (or students) that zero is the only appropriate target to shoot for. If the goal is communicated appropriately, I think that it's possible to have a zero goal understood as "what we're going to continuously try for."

Setting a continuously decreasing target, I agree, is helpful in reducing run-of-the-mill recordable injuries and illnesses. One of the less-well-understood aspects of safety science as it has been practiced the past 50-100 years is that we have seen a dramatic drop in nonfatal, recordable-type incidents without a corresponding drop in serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). (See here.) Fatalities are sufficiently low-frequency at any given workplace (only about 5,000/yr for US industry as a whole) that you can't really define a workplace incidence rate for them. In a way, you have the choice of two targets: zero or not-zero. 


Daniel Reid Kuespert, PhD, CSP
11101 Wood Elves Way
Columbia, MD 21044

On Mar 17, 2021, at 22:05, pzavon**At_Symbol_Here** <pzavon**At_Symbol_Here**ROCHESTER.RR.COM> wrote:

Zero incidents cannot be achieved and you will, eventually be disappointed, to say the least, if that is your expectation.  However, zero is a useful aspiration or goal, recognizing that continuingly decreasing targets greater than zero is a good way to control and decrease your incident rate.  
But bear in mind that this only works in a reasonable manner for large groups. 
From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU> On Behalf Of Harrison, Paul
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 2:34 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Seeking subject expert
Dear list members:
At our University-wide safety meeting this morning, while we were reviewing incidents on campus, our VP (Admin) asked what I think is a critical string of questions:
How do some organizations achieve a zero incident level?  Examples include the nuclear industry, and our local fire station.  Clearly they have a strong safety culture.  So, how do we enhance our safety culture to bring us towards that goal?  Could we get an expert to advise us?
This is not a chemistry question, but an institutional one.  But I immediately thought of the D-chas group, where there are so many experts on safety.  
If there is anyone out there who would be interested in exploring this through giving us a seminar, and/or or spending perhaps a day with us, do please contact me off-list.  Some knowledge of the Canadian safety landscape would be useful, but we are really looking at the bigger picture.  We do not have an approved budget, but some compensation may well be possible.  This could take place on-line, or perhaps in-person once the border re-opens.
Best wishes and safe work to all.
Paul Harrison, B.A. Hons. (Oxon), Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Associate Chair (Undergraduate)
Chemistry & Chemical Biology
Dept. of Chemistry & Chemical Biology
McMaster University
1280 Main St. West.
Hamilton, ON L8S 4M1 

Map icon=E2=80=82location: ABB-418
Phone icon=E2=80=82phone: (905) 525-9140 x 27290
Envelope icon=E2=80=82email: pharriso**At_Symbol_Here**

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