Safety engineering analysis is a process that involves the identification and definition of hazardous conditions or risks for purpose of their elimination or control. Safety engineering analysis aims at preventing workplace accidents. Mader et al. (2013) argues that the concept is about examining the engineering systems, subsystems, components, and the interrelationships between those elements. The concept also involves assessment of four elements of National Airspace Integrated Logistics Support including training, maintenance, operational and maintenance environments, and system or component disposal.
How Safety Engineering Can Be Accomplished Through Use of General Systems Theory
The concept of safety engineering analysis is associated with five elements. According to Mader et al. (2013), safety engineering analysis involves five tasks; identifying hazards, determining their causes, creating controls for the identified hazards, assessing adequacies of the controls, and conducting hazard tracking. The five tasks tend to correlate with the general system theory, which proposes that to ensure safety in engineering, a plan has to be put in place to study a particular system of work (plan); controls have to be applied within the work system to increase its overall effectiveness (do); measurement of subsequent performance has to be done (check); performance measurement data has to be used to perform modifications to the system (act); the system has to be studied continuously. PDCA cycle can be applied in safety engineering when a company wants to conduct an assessment of a particular system that has been constantly breaking down. In accordance with the PDCA cycle, the company needs to plan to conduct a study on that particular system of work including identifying the causes of its constant breakdown (plan), create controls for the identified causes (do), assess adequacies of the created controls (check), and then perform modifications to the system (act). The company would also need to continuously examine the system to establish if it is effective or not after modifications have been performed.
A leading safety performance indicator is something that provides information to help a user to respond to changing circumstances and take actions to achieve desired outcomes or avoid unwanted outcomes. The role of a leading safety performance indicator is to help improve the future performance of a system by promoting action to correct the system’s potential weaknesses without waiting for the demonstrated failures (Mader et al., 2013). Therefore, a leading safety performance indicator may be designed into a working system to provide information on the areas that need improvements; to provide early warning signs on potential weak areas or vulnerabilities in a particular work system; to enable a company to direct its attention to proactive measures of safety management rather than reactive follow up of negative occurrences or trending of events. Other reasons why leading safety performance indicators can be designed into work systems is that they can help a company to focus on precursors to undesired events rather than the undesired events themselves, they can provide a firm with information related to the effectiveness of the safety efforts that have been put in place, and they can provide information about a company’s health or culture.
Leading safety performance indicators present either the current state and development of key processes and the technical infrastructure of a particular work system. The current state includes a view on the changing vulnerabilities of a given company and its internal model related to how it is creating safety. According to Mader et al. (2013), leading performance indicators also indicate the potential of a company to achieve safety. However, leading performance indicators do not directly predict the safety-related outcomes of a company’s sociotechnical systems since they are also affected by other factors such as external circumstances and situational variables. A scenario where leading safety performance indicators may be designed into a working system is in an oil and gas company distributing dangerous products through pipelines. The indicators may be used to establish any potential problems that might occur in the pipelines so that immediate action can be taken to prevent massive damages to a particular environment.
A safety management system (SMS) is a system designed to manage safety elements in the workplace. SMS comprises four functional components including safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion. The first pillar of SMS is a safety policy, which consists of three elements; management commitment, safety accountabilities, and the appointment of key safety personnel. According to the ICAO Safety Management Manual (SMM), safety policy is concerned with the structure and outline of how safe operations will be conducted within an organization. Safety policy involves planning, organizing, documentation, emergency preparedness and response, and compliance with regulations and laws (Mckinnon, 2019). It is at this level that an organization’s management must commit to supporting the SMS. Without the management’s commitment, the SMS is bound to fail. Employees tend to be highly influenced by the behavior of an organization’s management, thus if they see the management intentionally breaking the rules or policy, they are likely to emulate such behavior. The second pillar of SMS is safety risk management. Safety risk management is the most important component of SMS. It is the process through which an organization’s management identifies risks, mitigates, or eliminates them before they lead to an accident or incident.
The third pillar of SMS is safety assurance, which demonstrates whether an organization is safe. Safety assurance (SA) evaluates the effectiveness of risk control strategies that an organization has implemented, supports the identification of new hazards, assesses whether an organization has complied with the SMS requirements and ICAO Safety Management’s policies and directives. According to Mckinnon (2019), the pillar also provides insights and analysis regarding methods or opportunities for improving safety within an organization and minimizing risks. Safety promotion is the fourth pillar of SMS. In every organization, there should be a safety culture and it should be promoted by positive supporting practices. Some of the safety promotion activities that an organization should include in its SMS framework involve training and educational programs.
Importance of Engineering Safety into The System Life Cycle
The effectiveness of any safety program can be directly related to the proactive and cooperative spirit of the participants. No program can be effective without the aggressive pursuit of safety as a goal, nor can it be effective without the active support and cooperation of all levels of an organization. Safety must be engineered into the life cycle of any project, process, or organizational system with the highest standards in place (Lundteigen, Rausand, & Utne, 2009). The importance of engineering safety into a system’s life cycle can be found at the very root of any safety plan, which is the elimination of injuries and loss in the work environment.
How Empirical and Quantitative Data Could Be Used to Diagnose Elements of SMS
Gathering background information is a step in the process of diagnosing various elements of an organization’s SMS. The information can either be quantitative or empirical. Quantitative data is information related to the quantities that can be measured. Many organizations rely on quantitative data to measure the effectiveness of various performance indicators of their SMS programs. These performance indicators are such as time lost due to occupation illness or incidents, injury severity rates, and total recordable incident rates. These indicators can suggest a good quality safety system whenever incidents do not happen and demonstrate a poor level of safety when unfortunate incidents occur.
Empirical data is often gathered through experimentation or observation. Empirical data tend to provide timely information to predict an organization’s potential health and safety problems. This idea is a driving factor behind behavior-based safety systems in many organizations. Observing safe and at-risk behaviors of personnel at all levels of an organization provides data that can help to identify the effectiveness of a safety management system and help to establish proactive measures to improve the SMS. Some of the indicators that can help an organization develop a culture that demonstrates safety as a core value include safety training and orientation, employee engagement, management commitment, incident investigations, and recognitions and rewards.
Lundteigen, M. A., Rausand, M., & Utne, I. B. (2009). Integrating RAMS engineering and management with the safety life cycle of IEC 61508. Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 94(12), 1894–1903. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ress.2009.06.005
Mader, R., Armengaud, E., Grießnig, G., Kreiner, C., Steger, C., & Weiß, R. (2013). OASIS: An automotive analysis and safety engineering instrument. Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 120, 150–162. http://doi.or/10.1016/j.ress.2013.06.045
Mckinnon, R. C. (2019). Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (SMSs). The Design, Implementation, and Audit of Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, 65–69. https://doi.org/10.1201/9780429280740-10