The human and organizational performance approach to safety understands that workplaces are complex and that many factors can lead to incidents and near-hits. There is not always one readily identifiable root cause of incidents, and in many cases, several factors contributed to an event.
By taking a human and organizational performance approach and utilizing operational learning, businesses can examine each of these factors and the role each played. This allows safety professionals and leadership to examine workplace complexities and the tasks that workers must perform.
Furthermore, when incidents occur, rather than simply blaming and punishing workers, the human and organizational performance method uses it as a learning opportunity to engage and collaborate with workers to improve the overall safety of the operation. Involving workers in discussions about incidents provides valuable insights into the work they do, how complex it is, and the controls and procedures that can be implemented to help them do their jobs safely. Workers know the most about the risks and have the highest injury potential, so who better to involve in a conversation about operational risks.
The key is asking the right questions and involving the right people in the conversation. It is critical to speak to the workers who were close to the incident to gain an understanding of how the event happened and the complexity of the tasks and procedures involved. This kind of operational learning can help leadership and safety professionals understand the challenges workers face each day in order to simplify the work and in turn make the workplace safer.
When utilizing this method, leadership should understand that human errors will occur. The key is putting safeguards in place that can anticipate and react to those errors to prevent near-hits and incidents. While it may be impossible to fully prevent human errors, how management approaches human error can have a major impact on organizational performance.
By examining the human and organizational habits and taking a more holistic approach to safety, leadership and safety professionals can begin to establish a culture in which communication and collaboration with workers is an integral part of safety improvement.
ASSE’s SeminarFest 2018 will examine this topic in detail within its human behavior learning track, which offers six different courses on topics including cognitive bias, behavior-based safety, and human and organizational performance.
View the full list of courses in the human behavior learning track here.