The safety intelligence process model and individual safety profile assessment tool, pioneered by mining training official Koos Davel, integrates three primary safety components; organisational safety systems, job safety behaviour, and personal safety climate.
Job safety behavior and individual safety profile causes up to 98% of accidents on work sites, but traditional organisational safety management systems function mainly to ensure legislative compliance.
False security of safety systems
Workers have lost the ability to recognise unsafe situations and hazards. The general South African safety model, of a systems driven safety culture, has led to high rates of safety incidents in mines and heavy industry.
Remedial actions after incidents are limited to writing more procedures, SOPs, SWPs, irrespective of Hira ratings. Procedures for everything on site, make workers believe that they do not have to think. Incident investigations often centere on how and why procedures were not followed.
PPE safety fallacy
We have programmed workers to believe that personal protective equipment (PPE) is a suit of armor to protect and safeguard them against injury.
When asked about the function of gloves, eye protection, overalls, safety shoes or hard hats, the reply is programmed; ‘To protect my hands, eyes, skin, feet, head’. This attitude implies that employees believe they are safe when wearing PPE.
When you raise awareness that PPE like gloves are only there to keep hands clean, and to find fingers in the event of a finger loss incident, you get looks of shock and disbelief.
PPE is an important element in certain safety systems, and in safety culture, as a secondary line of defence, ‘insurance’ to limit some loss from likely incidents.
Workers should think and act as if they were not wearing PPE, and focus on potential consequences of acts, not on wearing PPE.
The PPE fallacy is one of the primary philosophy shifts that I had to do on a mine with 60 maintenance team members in the last 14 months, as part of my studies, which I should conclude by November 2011.
Safety intelligence culture thesis
In my forthcoming PhD thesis, ‘Towards a Safety Intelligence Culture process Model’, I find that organisational culture is often used to describe shared corporate values that affect and influence members’ attitudes and behaviours.
Safety culture is a sub facet of organisational culture, which is thought to affect members’ attitudes and behaviour in relation to an organisation’s ongoing health and safety performance.
However, a myriad of definitions of ‘organisational culture’ and ‘safety culture’ in managerial and safety literature, suggests that the concept of business specific cultures is not clear.
Placing such ‘culture’ constructs into a goal setting paradigm appears to provide greater clarity. There is not yet a universally accepted model by which to formulate testable hypotheses that take into account antecedents, behavior, and consequence.
A reciprocal model of safety culture drawn from Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986) provides a theoretical and practical framework by which to measure and analyse safety culture.
Individual safety skills
Individual safety profiling could be done by a Fluid intelligence (Fc) assessment instrument, that integrates perceptual, manipulative, and nonverbal abilities, together providing a unique measure of a worker’s or candidate’s natural safety abilities.
Fluid intelligence (Fc) test scores indicate ability to find meaning in apparent confusion, and solve new problems that arise at work. Fc is the ability to draw inferences and understand relationships of various concepts, independent of acquired knowledge.
This new assessment methodology is based on the work of Dr Steven Catterall, who focused on individual information processing systems (Gf). The approach examines ability to think and reason, and speed at which information could be analysed, as well as attention and memory capacity.
Measure problem solving skill
The new safety skills hypothesis is that individuals with high spatial and perceptual ability, can think, perceive, solve problems, and should technically not hurt themselves on site.
This paradigm contradicts the view that only psycho motor skills, or high hand-eye co-ordination, could prevent incidents and injuries at work.
Workers that score high in our spatial, manipulative, perceptual assessments (Fluid), invariably have the ability to avoid hurting themselves, and develop faster in their jobs.
The new approach contradicts the traditional safety mindset where individual cognitive abilities are not taken into account in safety performance.
Worker safety assessment validated
We have found that workers with high score in Fluid intelligence assessment, also score high in psychomotor assessment. Questions used in the assessment reveal geometric, perception, comprehension, and verbal skills.
The assessment, or survey instrument, named C Sense, can be done in groups of up to 60 per session, takes an hour, and ten minutes to mark and capture on a computer for an integrated analysis.
Results reveal at 90% accuracy the probability of each worker to hurt himself or herself on a mine. Individual assessment results were validated by actual incidents and injuries, also as measured against a well known commercial psychomotor measuring instrument.
Systems remediate safety communication
Job safety behavior and safety systems aimed at legislative compliance, are convenient for instigating remedial action. Short, highly interactive Powerpoint presentations are made weekly to the team, from superintendent to general worker, in a lecture environment.
Presentations of 45 minutes should enable team leaders to talk on equal information footing with their team members for 15 minutes.
Some 90 short learning interventions have been developed over two years, with an empirical structure to ensure retention of learning.
Safety learning components
The safety intelligence process model incorporates several primary learning components, each including a number of modules:
• Safety Orientation modules, like site visit orientation, inductions, safety core values, learning philosophy.
• Safety Awareness and incident prevention modules, like personal protective equipment (PPE), eye safety awareness, site tasks and practice, hand tools injury prevention, work at height.
• Standard Task Procedure modules in each area.
• Integrated Safety Intelligence modules, like Saba and Safety Trivia.
• Culture Change modules, like change management workshops, and zero injury culture.
• Safety Risk Observance Learning modules, like integratred risk assessment, task analysis, behavior based safety (BBS), Hira skills, employee legal compliance and liability.
• Individual Safety Profiling modules, like C Sense test battery explanation.
• Safety Leadership Development modules, like mine case studies, visible felt leadership (VFL) theory, Train the Trainer, and Incident Investigation methods.
These skills interventions are presented weekly to a team in their workplace, at a tea room or workshop, equally empowering all.
Individual profiling tool
Two years of sweat had delivered a profiling safety measurement instrument that supports a safety intelligence philosophy. The simplistic assessment tool is culturally fair, posed in workers’ first language, either English, Zulu or Portuguese.
It could also be used to profile contractors during induction and yearly shutdown. Any worker with Grade 2 can do the assessment, from managers to workers.
Individual assessment results enable contractors or employers to better use talents of team members.
Safety culture case studies
One case study result is that up to December 2009, the maintenance team had four or five incidents per month, then for 13 months they had no incidents.
About 1300 contractors at a furnace rebuild over five months, had two minor injuries, involving a shoulder and an ankle.
Test results imply that my new safety intelligence process model can prevent loss incidents, and sustain a low incident rate. This research is unique in being developed in Africa, for Africa, and is proven to be effective.
Imagine offering a mine or factory manager, a selection instrument that an employee with ABET two can do, and provide feedback on the probability of each worker to hurt himself, or others, or damage plant or vehicles.
When I had finished my M degree it felt good. Although I have not published my D thesis yet, the success of my research thus far has been immense in achieving drastic drops in safety incidents, and improved working atmosphere on site.
I also lent some of my material to other mines, and within a month they too were amazed at the results, even of partial application. The new safety intelligence process model prevents incidents and loss.
• This report on SHEQafrica.com is based on research for a Doctorate degree, validated by tests in Northern Mozambican coal mines, and in some South African heavy industries and mines.
PHOTO; Koos Davel (Millwright, NDip (LC), NH Dip, Btech in Post School Education (Technikon SA), MA Comm science (Unizul), SHEQman) is training head at a heavy minerals mine in KwaZulu-Natal. A patent application is pending.