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Toolbox presentation:Safety culture – part 3Safety culture in practice in Australian mining October 2007
Safety culture toolbox series • Integrating human factors and safety management systems • What does safety culture mean for mining? • Safety culture in practice in Australian mining (Author: Greg Rowan, CSIRO)
Scope Examining some of the issues that face the Australian mining industry in terms of building safety cultures in the workplace, and what it means in practical terms
Safety culture — what is it? Safety culture is a hot topic in safety work, and alsoone, which can create confusion One representative definition is the one proposed by the Advisory Committee for Safety on Nuclear Installations in 1993: ‘‘The safety culture of an organization is the productof individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions,competencies and patterns of behaviour that determinecommitment to, and the style and proficiency of,an organization’s health and safety management.’’
Safety culture — what is it? cont. However, this definition is too broad and too difficult toprovide a clear focus for safety management. In a study of performed by the International Union of Railways to ensure the interoperability of railway systems across Europe, they used a simpler version: “Characteristic interaction patterns when organizationsinterface each other, i.e. how people collaborateand communicate at interfaces.”
Safety culture and risk management Consider safety culture in today’s explicit qualitative risk management regime Risk models and hazard maps are often underpinned by sets of relevant scenarios and each scenario is influenced by a set of safety critical functions. Safety critical functions are defined as: ‘‘functions of a system for which a malfunction would immediately increase the risk of injury or damage to health’’.
Safety critical functions In more practical terms, we may think of safety critical functions being implemented by tasks that are necessary to keep the risk at an acceptable level. These tasks may be carried out by hardware, software, humans, or any combination of these. Examples of safety critical functions: • Ensuring that a truck does not enter a block sectionwhich is reserved for other vehicles • Ensuring electrical interlocks are functioning • Ensuring ventilation systems are maintained • Ensuring strata control supports are installed correctly Like all tasks, safety critical functions can be identified at different levels of detail
Some ambiguities Many tasks can be accomplished in more than oneway, that is, by performing different sets of subtasks. Similarly, somewhat different sets of safety criticalfunctions may be used to accomplish the safety objectives. For example under certain conditions, trucks may be allowed to enter a block section which is already occupied by other vehicles, whereas this would be unacceptable under other conditions.
Safety critical functions Safety culture can influence the safety critical functions in two ways. • Firstly, a safety critical function may involve the interaction between persons belonging to different organizational cultures – trades vs operations vs management vs regulators Safety culture (understood as typical patterns of interaction) thus enters directly into the implementation of the safety critical function • Secondly, safety culture may have an indirect impact on a safety critical function. For instance, ‘‘cultural barriers’’ may cause operators notto report high potential incidents to the regulatory authority and thus delay correction action
Safety critical functions cont. When analysing safety culture we will need to be explicit and differentiate between two situations: • Safety culture as a set of properties of an organization that are unconditionally positive with respect to the safety level An example is a reporting culture • Safety culture as a pattern of behaviour and commitment to reach an agreed safety standard, but there does not exist ‘‘a best practice’’ to reach the agreed safety standard An example is problem solving
Safety critical functions cont. A study of cultural differences across nations looks upon culture as a collective phenomenon. For example, in the previous example of the International Union of Railways, the management style and the mechanisms to resolve problems have been shown to differ between different national cultures.
Safety critical functions cont. A conflict between two department heads within a company were presented to students from France, England and Germany who recommended preferred (‘‘correct’’) solutions to the conflict as follows: • French solution was for the opponents to take the issue to their common boss, who would issue orders for settling such dilemmas in the future • German solution was to establish specific procedures or routines to be used • British solution was to recommend a management course to the opponents to improve their interpersonal skills
Best practice It is an open question if it is possible to identify best practice, but as a starting point we have combined and incorporated what has been named best practice in our method: • ‘‘Grey areas’’ of responsibility should not be tolerated. It is essential to have clarity in task definitions and responsibilities • Obligation to report any condition that could imply a risk for others. As far as business is concerned, it is important that all parties share their databases regarding safety events and the resulting recommendations
Best practice cont. • The use of protocols or formalised communication templates is essential when communicating across interfaces • Common procedures by project teams across organizational boundaries. Experience shows that groups consisting of representatives from each of the companies involved in operations should be established and meet face-to-face • Common rules and procedures. Decide on one set of rules and change as little as possible. An important aspect is to ensure that not only are the basic rules the same, but also there is a common understanding of the rules
Best practice cont. • Intensive standardised training for operators, focussing on communication and handling of deviations • Agreed models for identifying and managing risks and the resources to control risks. Some of the most difficult issues to resolve stem from differences in the conceptualisation of risk management • Admit that there are differences across interfaces without inferring value or preference. One partner’s solution is not necessarily the only right solution, even though it may seem like the only rational solution. It is better to share experiences
S.O. Johnsen, Vatn, J., Rosness, R. and Herrera, I. A. Cross border railway operations: improving safety at cultural interfaces. Cognition, Technology & Work. Vol 8 No 1. March 2006. Springer London.
Key elements tabulation cont. S.O. Johnsen, Vatn, J., Rosness, R. and Herrera, I. A. Cross border railway operations: improving safety at cultural interfaces. Cognition, Technology & Work. Vol 8 No 1. March 2006. Springer London.
Queries Greg Rowan Director Mining Research Theme Leader Mining and Specialist Services CSIRO Exploration and Mining 07 3327 4170 or 0408 072 281 • Greg.Rowan@csiro.au • www.csiro.au