Dr. Dan Petersen, CSP, P.E., has a BS in industrial engineering, an MS in industrial psychology, and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior and management. Danâ€™s latest book, â€œMeasurement of Safety Performance,â€ has recently been published by the American Society of Safety Engineers. For more info, visit www.asse.org.
Sadly, I preface this month’s column with word that Dan Petersen passed on January 10, 2007. Rare is a true giant in a field. That’s what Dan was to safety. A compassionate man with class, Dan started in safety full-time in 1954. For the next 53 years he prodded the field to raise its level of professionalism with unmatched vigor. In books, articles, speeches and teaching he pressed the need for research, a sense of history, clear thinking, open-mindedness, and accountability. Dan never stopped learning, never stopped pursuing the goal of organizational safety excellence. Dan leaves a huge legacy, and he’ll be very much missed. â€” Dave Johnson, Editor
Safety committees exist in many workplaces, and the quality of their contributions can vary greatly. In some companies, they fulfill a role of communication, quasi-participation, or perhaps real employee participation â€” for the few workers on the committee.
For many years accident measures like the number of accidents, frequency rates, severity rates, and dollar costs were used to measure the progress of the organizational unit because practitioners felt comfortable using them. These results measures did not reveal whether the overall safety system was effective, diagnose what was or was not working, or indicate whether the system was in or out of control.
Last month in this column I discussed five factors that determine how much effort employees will put into safety (or any part of their jobs): 1) their opinion of the value of the rewards; 2) the connection they see between their effort and those rewards; 3) effort expended; 4) abilities and traits; and, 5) role perception.
Itâ€™s easy to be â€œled down the garden pathâ€ as a safety practitioner. Let me explain. Or rather, Iâ€™ll let Thomas Sowell do the explaining. In 1995, Sowell wrote the best-seller, Vision of the Anointed (published by BasicBooks, a member of the Perseus Books Group).