I write to challenge the views expressed by Michael Douglas in his article 'A new approach to safety management' (NCE last week), and fundamentally disagree with his comment that 'the nature of the industry means that accident levels are inevitably high'.
If we have a desire to improve safety we must believe that regardless of the environment in which we work, all accidents are preventable and that by identifying and eliminating the causes we can eliminate accidents.
Using the example given by Mr Douglas - a fatal fall from height - the direct cause may have been the absence of a safety harness, but in investigating such an event it is essential to ascertain both the indirect and root causes of the accident. It is true that behavioural attitudes may be an indirect cause, but these are only capable of becoming significant if there are more serious organisational failings: in management, planning, communication and control.
While acknowledging that offering rewards to encourage behavioral change can improve safety performance, I would suggest a wide scale change in attitude is needed to halt 'inevitable' accidents.
Iain Graham (M) iain. firstname.lastname@example.org