Friday, June 29, 2007

ASSE Safe and Sorry

More safety programs may not result in better safety ...

"We've all heard the maxims “better safe than sorry” and “you never can have too much of a good thing.” But psychologist Zara Hart has found that it's not always better to be safe and that there is such a thing as too much safety.

Hart, who works as a corporate psychologist for the nonprofit Industrial Foundation for Accident Prevention (IFAP) in Australia, has collected quantitative and qualitative data – through surveys, focus groups and candid one-on-one interviews with workers – on organizational safety cultures. Recently, Hart said, she has observed corporate cultures that challenge the basic assumption that more safety always engenders ... well, more safety.

Hart, speaking at the American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) 2007 Professional Development Conference in Orlando, Fla., told attendees that she believes that excessive safety could be a growing problem.

“The concern is that more and more and more might not be adding more,” Hart told OccupationalHazards.com after her June 25 presentation. “It might actually be detracting.”

According to Hart, it is possible for organizations to reach a point of “safety saturation,” which she defines as “the point in the development of a safety culture [in which] the addition of more safety initiatives will not improve safety outcomes.”

Safety saturation, Hart said, can lead to excessive safety, “which represents a waste of time and resources and has a negative effect on culture.” The potential negative effects of excessive safety, ironically, include more accidents and injuries.

“Incredibly ironic,” Hart commented."    (Continued via Occupational Hazards)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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