How do you keep your safety programs effective and relevant when there is not much data to work from? Your business can’t do pilot studies or simulations where people are likely to be injured to gather robust safety data.
Where there is a lack of easily accessible data, there is a tendency to focus safety effort on hazards and perceptions rather than on correctly assessed risks i.e. hazard consequence x likelihood. Some would argue that where there is an identified hazard, doing something is better than nothing. From my experience, safety campaigns that can’t clearly outline the actual risk lead to confusion in the workforce, distract people from real risks and lead to a false sense of security. If you want your safety group to be taken seriously, they need to be able to demonstrate that the situation is in fact...serious.
An example of this focus on hazards was a campaign on escalator usage run at a large organisation I am acquainted with. This campaign included the production of signage and demonstration material on how to use an escalator safely, so some time and effort went into it. The initial information appeared to indicate that walking on the escalator could lead to falls, but a follow up message talked about maintaining three points of contact to avoid falls, which appeared to contradict the initial message by now suggesting that walking was OK (two hands on the handrails, one foot on the step at all times).
In these circumstances, the questions I suggest need to be answered are:
1) what is the actual risk that the hazard (an escalator) poses to a person in this environment; and
2) would any of the proposed measures make a material difference to people’s safety?