Many organizations tell us that work has never been as safe as it is today. They will show the lowest injury figures ever and the rosiest incident counts in years. They want to be proud of these accomplishments, and perhaps they should be. But behind these results hide complexity and contradiction - a messiness that Todd Conklin takes us into with this audiobook. For one, it is pretty obvious by now that trying to lower our incident and injury rates leaves the risk of process safety disasters and fatalities pretty much unaffected. Getting better at managing injuries and incidents doesn’t help us prevent fatalities and accidents - we’ve known that for a long time (Salminen, Saari, Saarela, & Rasanen, 1992).
The number of fatalities in, say, construction or the energy industry has remained relatively stable over the past decades (Amalberti, 2013; National Safety Council, 2004), even when many organizations proudly report entire years (or more) without injury. Lowering the injury or non-serious incident rate can actually put an organization at greater risk of accidents and fatalities.
In shipping, for example, injury counts were halved over a recent decade, but the number of shipping accidents tripled (Storkersen, Antonsen, & Kongsvik, 2016). In construction, most workers lost their lives precisely in the years with the lowest injury counts (Saloniemi & Oksanen, 1998). And in aviation, airlines with the fewest incidents have the highest passenger mortality risk (Barnett & Wang, 2000). What lies behind these fatalities?
Do they really happen because some people don’t wear their personal protective equipment - that some don’t wear gloves when rules say they should? Workplace Fatalities: Failure to Predict is the first book for the industry professional that speaks directly to this important challenge: If your organization is so safe, why do we have fatal and serious events?