Structured Management Tools

During the Second World War, as part of their education of supervisors and engineers, Heinrich and Granniss had worked with a tool that later was included in what today would be called Travelers’ quality management system, and the later editions of Industrial Accident Prevention. The Hazard Thru Track (Travelers, 1945) was a schematic help for simplified accident prevention, combining different “principles” with (elements of) Heinrich’s accident sequence. The “new” principles resembled the steps in the formula for supervision that Heinrich presented some years later:

  • 1 Know about hazards
  • 2 Find and name them
  • 3 Select a remedy
  • 4 Apply the remedy

The contents of the steps were in accordance with what Heinrich proposed in Basics of Supervision. Hazards were defined as personal (unsafe acts) or mechanical (unsafe conditions) and in the second step, the safety engineer was urged to find reasons for their existence. In the third step, remedies were found in four groups with a suggested hierarchy:

  • 1 Engineering revision
  • 2 Persuasion, appeal, instruction
  • 3 Personal adjustment
  • 4 Discipline as last resort.

Besides being a helpful instrument, this flowchart was also meant as a means of professionalisation of safety engineers: “It is when obstacles to accomplishment are encountered that the ability of the safety engineer is taxed the most. He must have ingenuity enough to overcome obstacles” (Travelers, 1945).

Heinrich and Granniss were also involved in another project related to safety management. The creation of a Form for Use in Self-Appraisal of Industrial Plants had already been suggested in June 1939 by the ASME. A draft was presented the next year, but due to war priorities little was done in the years after. However, some of the safety documentation provided by the Department of Labor during the War did include short self-appraisal checklists. By the end of the War, in July 1947, a final draft of the selfappraisal form was finished and approved as ASME Standard.

This tool was intended as “a uniform method of measuring the degree of progress made by an individual plant in the development and application of safety and accident prevention measures” (ASME, 1947, p.4) with subjects covering among others planning, construction, safeguarding, supervision, housekeeping, education, code compliance, management control, and leadership. It was believed that

the periodic use of such a uniform method of self-appraisal would also stimulate efforts leading to accident prevention on a national scale since it would provide a means for comparison of the degree of progress made in a given individual plant with that made in other plants.

(ASME, 1947, p.4)

The checklist provided a maximum score per item of which the assessor could “claim” a certain credit. The various items were clustered into three groups: physical/engineering activities, educational activities, and management control. Interestingly both management control and educational activities had twice the weight of physical/engineering, emphasising the importance of management activities. The ASSE self-assessment tool can be seen as a direct predecessor to the International Safety Rating System, which was created by Frank Bird Jr. in 1978 and is sold by DNV GL until today.

Another Metaphor

In the first editions of Industrial Accident Prevention safety management did not appear as a subject of its own. By the third edition, however, it was labelled as such and accompanied by the appearance of another visually appealing model. His final metaphor, a five-step ladder was the visual representation of a basic safety management system. It is interesting that Heinrich opened the 1950 edition of Industrial Accident Prevention with this picture, stressing safety management as an important subject.15

One could view the safety ladder as a further development of his principles of “scientific” accident prevention. The ladder stood on a robust foundation, representing the basic philosophy of accident occurrence and prevention. This basic philosophy was detailed in Chapter 2 of the book - presented in the previous versions and relatively unchanged - and summed up by the ten Axioms. The foundation also showed a grand vision for safety management; based on attitude, ability, and knowledge there was a desire to serve industry, the country, and humanity.

Five steps went from this foundation upwards, representing the basic safety organisation and management and then essentially the principles of accident prevention: gathering facts, analysing the information, selection of remedy, and application of remedy. In part, the approach compares well to later management system structures based on the Plan-Do-Check/Study- Act cycle, although one might say that the feedback and improve-loop from the PDCA-cycle was less clearly expressed by Heinrich (Figure 8.2).

The metaphor also illustrated the fact that safety, efficiency, and production went together and are not separate objectives - the five steps led up to them both.

It is somewhat surprising that Heinrich did not dedicate any speeches or papers to safety management and the ladder (unless these are yet to be discovered), and they only appeared in the third and fourth edition of Industrial Accident Prevention. However, around the same time, Heinrich wrote

Heinrich’s safety ladder (HWH 1950a, p.7)

Figure 8.2 Heinrich’s safety ladder (HWH 1950a, p.7).

unpublished speeches on the subject of Safely Organization - A Function of Management. He had a surprisingly modern definition of safety organisation (or management): “...a planned, continuing and systematic procedure designed to coordinate and make effective all activity in the prevention of avoidable accidents. Emphasis in this definition is placed on ‘procedure’ and on ‘activity’” (HWH1952a, p.l).

He addressed the failure of safety professionals to “sell” managers in an appealing way on their responsibilities. Instead of emphasising compliance, they should show the benefits - “the great opportunities for efficiency in production that lies [in safety organisation]” (HWH1952a, p.l). He shied not away of criticising some of his peers, “Isn’t it quite likely that the profession is so impressed with ‘self-evident truths’ that it becomes impatient with the folks who don’t see it the same way and so fail to take the indicated corrective action?” (HWH1952a, p.l). Even stronger, “...there is too much ‘inbreeding’ in the safety engineering profession - that we live too much to ourselves” (HWH1952a, p.3).

He also spoke in critical terms about management education, “...some, but not all college business administration courses include a bit of safety. It isn’t enough. Further, the new courses do not benefit the executives who are already on the job” (HWH1952a, p.2). As a consequence of these factors he found that, “accident prevention exists at best as a step-child” (HWH 1952a, p.2). Therefore Heinrich named a number of points of what the safety profession can do to convince management and actually involve management in the work. Because, “management not only has the responsibility for initiating and carrying on safety organisation, but also has the best opportunity to do so. In fact, no one else has either the authority or means to do so” (HWH1952a, p.3).

According to Heinrich, safety organisation consisted of “certain inescap- ables” which one will find as requirements in today’s safety management systems:

  • 1 Management approves, initiates, supports, and controls.
  • 2 First aid, authorised medical, and hospital care.
  • 3 Appointment of one person to direct the work in detail.
  • 4 Committees and sub-committees as necessary.
  • 5 Periodic survey of operations and equipment.
  • 6 Selection, instruction, training, and supervision of personnel.
  • 7 Recording and investigation of accidents, including corrective action.

For the “systematic, continuing and orderly procedure in accident prevention,” Heinrich suggested his principles/four step formula and emphasised, “The work of accident prevention cannot make progress without Safety Organisation. Safety Organisation in turn is ineffective until management accepts its responsibility” (HWH1952a, p.5).

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