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Course 716 - Safety Management System Evaluation

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Cause Analysis

What is Root Cause Analysis?
Audiopedia

Documentation

There are many tools for SMS analysis. Document review, employee interviews, and review of site conditions are quite important and provide you with valuable data for analysis. We'll also look at the 5-Why and Fishbone techniques.

Every worksite should have, at a minimum, written accident reports and the OSHA 300 Log of injuries and illnesses as required by law. It's a good idea, especially for larger companies, to have written procedures and records of all safety and health programs. A program evaluator should compare the written program with the performance record of the program.

Interviews

In addition to documentation, interviews can be very helpful in establishing what has occurred.  There are two kinds of interviews, formal and informal.

  • Formal interviews are conducted privately with randomly selected employees who are asked pre-selected questions. 
  • Informal interviews occur at employee work stations and generally follow a list of topics.

To assess how well the worksite safety and health policy is communicated and understood, and how well the disciplinary system is working, ask the employees to explain them.

To gauge the effectiveness of safety and health training, interview hourly employees and first-line supervisors:

  • Ask employees to describe what hazards they are exposed to, and how they are protected.
  • Ask employees to explain what they are supposed to do in several different types of emergencies.
  • Ask supervisors how they teach, how they reinforce the teaching, how they enforce safety and health rules and safe work practices, and what their responsibilities are during emergency situations.

Interviews with management should focus on its involvement in and commitment to the safety and health program.

  • Ask how the policy statement was created, and how that statement is communicated to all employees. 
  • Ask what information management receives about the safety and health activities, and what action management takes as a result of that information. 
  • Ask how management's commitment to safety and health is demonstrated to the workforce.

Review Workplace Conditions

Conditions in the workplace reveal much about SMS effectiveness. Workplace conditions can be observed indirectly by examining documents such as inspection reports of hazards, employee reports of hazards, and incident/accident investigations.

Inspections or tours may reveal hazards. Tips include:

  • Be careful the inspection does not become routine with emphasis only on hazard correction.
  • When a hazard is found, certainly take steps to make sure it is corrected.
  • Ask what management system(s) should have prevented or controlled the hazard.
  • Determine why system(s) failed, and either change them or take other appropriate corrective measures.
The 5 Whys Method
MindTools

The "5 Whys" Technique

The "5 Whys" technique is a brainstorming technique that identifies root causes of problems by asking why behaviors occurred or conditions existed. This produces the most direct cause of the event. As the diagram below indicates, each cause is, at the same time, the effect of a deeper cause. For each of these causes, ask why it occurred. Repeat the process for the other events associated with the problem.

5whys

Cause and Effect (Fishbone) Diagram

The cause and effect diagram graphically represents the relationships between a problem (effect) and its possible causes. The problem is stated in descriptive terms that are observable and measurable. Possible causes are listed. The committee or team then assigns priorities to the causes and action plans are developed.

When a cause and effect diagram is constructed, thinking is stimulated, thoughts are organized, and discussions are started. These discussions bring out many possible viewpoints on the subject. The idea is each effect observed is the result of a deeper cause. Once all participants reach a similar level of understanding about an issue, an expansion of ideas can then be examined.

fishbone
Fishbone Diagram
(Click to enlarge)

Cause and effect diagrams are developed in a form, commonly referred to as a "fish," where the effect is found in a box to the right which is the head of the fish. The bones of the fish show the organized causes. The effects and causes can be expressed in words or data.

Cause and effect diagrams are used to examine many different topics which include the following:

  1. The relationships between a known problem and the factors that might affect it.
  2. A desired future outcome and its related factors.
  3. Any event past, present, or future and its causal factors.

The technique is also useful in planning activities and brainstorming. The diagram is basically a controlled way of gathering and using suggestions through group consensus.

Procedures

Cause and Effect Analyss
DHi International

A cause and effect diagram is developed in the following manner:

  1. Define the effect as clearly as is possible and place it at the head of the fish. This effect represents the "problem" that is being investigated. As data are collected, the effect can be redefined, if necessary.
  2. The group brainstorms the causes and lists them in no particular order. These causes are then studied and the causes that affect these causes are identified. This will continue until no new causes are thought of by the group.
  3. Once all causes are identified, list all categories and then display the categories on the diagram.
  4. The group then prioritizes the causes by multivoting. Each member of the group lists the causes in order of significance. Votes are counted and a final list is written.
  5. The highest prioritized causes are listed on the diagram as the big bones. The next highest prioritized causes will be listed on the diagram as the medium bones. Finally, the least prioritized causes will be listed on the diagram as the small bones.
  6. As categories and causes are included on the diagram, thinking may be stimulated and new causes may be identified.
  7. Teams are then formed to research and report on preventive (i.e., proactive) measures.

Last Words

Well, I hope you find one or two of these techniques useful in your effort to analyze your safety management system. The really do work! In the next module, we will take a look at taking all of the information and data collected to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency (quality) of the safety management system. See you there!



Instructions

Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. A program evaluator should compare the written program with the _____ record of the program.

2. This type of interview is conducted privately with randomly selected employees who are asked preselected questions.

3. To assess how well the worksite safety and health policy is communicated and understood, and how well the disciplinary system is working, ask the employees to _____.

4. All of the following are described in the text as important questions to ask to gauge the effectiveness of safety and health training, except _____.

5. Interviews with management should focus on its _____ in and _____ to the safety and health program.

6. Workplace conditions can be observed indirectly by all of the following, except _____.

7. The _____ is a brainstorming technique that identifies root causes of problems by asking why behaviors occurred or conditions existed.

8. Cause and effect diagrams are used to examine many different topics which include all of the following, except _____.

9. In this technique, the group prioritizes causes by multivoting.

10. Bottom line: each cause is, at the same time, the effect of a _____.


Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.