3 Steps to Develop a SIF Prevention Strategy

Warehouse Managers
March 17, 2020

Recently, the Campbell Institute released its second white paper on serious injury and fatality (SIF) prevention: Designing Strategy for Serious Injury and Fatality Prevention.

The Institute’s first white paper on the topic, Serious Injury and Fatality Prevention: Perspectives and Practices, was published in November 2018.

The latest paper discusses an implementation guide for SIF prevention, with real-life examples of approaches to SIF prevention used by Institute members, and lessons learned.

In this post we highlight three steps for the development of a roadmap for a SIF prevention strategy, based on the findings from the Campbell Institute’s research.

But first, some background and definitions on serious injury and fatality (SIF) prevention.

Not all non-injury incidents are equal in terms of their potential for resulting in SIF. Only some near misses have SIF precursors that could lead to recordable injuries, lost time injuries, and fatalities. Events that have SIF precursors must be isolated and analyzed separately, to better prevent injuries and fatalities.

What exactly is a “SIF precursor”? There is no official definition, but the Campbell Institute says that most organizations tend to use the following one:

A high-risk situation in which control measures are absent, ineffective or not complied with, and that would potentially result in a fatality or serious injury if allowed to continue.

There is a key distinction to make: The presence of a high-risk situation (or activity) is not enough to make it a SIF precursor. Rather, it is the state of the controls that would make a high-risk situation a SIF precursor.

The Institute paper’s gives the following great example: Working at height is not in and of itself a precursor, but working at height without fall protection is.

Now let’s look at the three steps for the development of a SIF prevention strategy roadmap. These steps should be initiated only after your organization understands the concept of a SIF, and settles on definitions of “serious injury”, “SIF potential” and “SIF precursors” that can be communicated to everyone.

1) Drive Motivation and Support for SIF Prevention

Even before your company embarks on a path to SIF prevention, it must be motivated to proactively identify and eliminate risk exposures, and gain executive support to pursue a SIF prevention strategy. This is achieved by:

  • Showing how a SIF prevention strategy is the logical next step in an organization’s journey to safety excellence.
  • Making everyone understand that they need to think beyond near misses and non-fatal injuries, and focus on SIF precursors and the most severe risks.
  • Explaining that, while a low injury rate is tied to reputation and brand, a SIF can affect worker morale, hence the importance of SIF prevention.

According to the Campbell Institute paper, the motivation to follow a SIF prevention strategy seems based on the maturity of an organization. Also, leading organizations in SIF prevention seek to be proactive rather than reactive, and pursue innovative ideas to protect workers.

2) Gather and Analyze High-Quality Data

The capture and analysis of quality data is a crucial step in developing a SIF prevention strategy.

Look at prior incidents and near misses to determine if they had SIF potential. The analysis of past events can help identify areas of risk that your organization currently faces and where you can take proactive measures.

The Campbell Institute paper also makes the following great point: Data analysis goes beyond mining past data for potential insights. It also includes collecting good data in the present by:

  • Training people in creating thorough and detailed incident reports.
  • Going into the field to collect observational data. This is where an EHS mobile app can help.
  • Talking to people about their experiences on the job.

Good quality data entered in a system leads to a better analysis, which leads to a better ability to predict and prevent the next incident. Give yourself a predictive power over SIFs, possibly even through artificial intelligence.

3) Establish Proper Governance and Oversight for SIF Prevention

The first two steps are about setting the stage. They’re about making the organization adopt the right mindset and laying the foundations for effective data capture and analysis.

This step is about the future, specifically the governance and oversight step of the SIF prevention strategy development.

According to the paper, Institute members have a process in place to monitor the results of their efforts and adjust if necessary. This should be a best practice for your own organization’s SIF prevention strategy also. Examples of activities include:

  • Creating and launching corrective action plans to address SIF precursors.
  • Making sure that action plans are completed.
  • Evaluating controls regularly through inspections to ensure that they’re effective or that they’re followed.

By developing a roadmap for a SIF prevention strategy, you make sure that your organization has the right mindset for SIF prevention, an effective system for data collection and analysis, and the proper structure to track progress.

Check out the full white paper for more details.

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Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Content Thought Leader