Goals and scope of safety in a factory


When we consider organized safety, the most important point to bear in mind is the prime goal pf safety. This can be stated as: “to reduce the number of all types of accidents which may cause loss of life, personal injury, loss or damage to equipment or loss of operating efficiency.

We encounter two distinctly different groups of accidents:

1. Those accidents emanating from failure of equipment on plants or from unrecognized danger in process or operation or from ‘acts of God’.

2. Accidents caused by ‘personnel’ unsafe acts, ranging from carelessness and negligence to poor craftsmanship, lack of instruction and inadequate instructions.

It might help to elucidate this with a few examples. We all know examples of failure of equipment—disintegration of high speed rotating equipment, bursting of pressure vessels or pipes, collapse of structures which cause loss of life, injuries and material damage, none of which were the “fault� of the operators or users or users involved. The same applies to many “operational� accidents, resulting in fires, explosions, poisoning etc., where only experience and analysis of circumstances taught us better procedures for safe future operations (static electricity as a cause of tank fires, explosions, safe handling of TEL, tank cleaning). Even those accidents, which are indicated as “acts of God� can be analyzed and studied, resulting in reduced or no damage in case of recurrence (extreme wind velocities during hurricanes or typhoons and excessive wave heights in offshore drilling operations, earthquake damage etc).

This category of accidents, if we wish to reduce their occurrence and effects, requires the gathering of reliable information on what happened, careful analysis of basic causes and resulting from that, the built-in safety, in future , for similar equipment or plants.

The second group, in which by far the largest number of accidents have to be classified, are those caused by the “operating individual� and this group covers all the range from minor mishaps (hitting your own nail instead of the nail) to major catastrophes due to incorrect handling or operation. In it we find the lackadaisical attitude of “this won’t happen to me� (grinding without goggles, not using safety belts).

This category of accidents, therefore, can only be tackled by working on the individual, by providing good training, by issuing complete operating instructions and by the realization of where the danger lies. It is unavoidable, too, by “Policing� the adherence to established safe practices.


From the above it is clear that the task of safety promotion is a team work which has to penetrate the entire company from the very start of our idea on development till the final execution of an operation—be it the transport of oil or gas by ship, the drilling of a well, the loading and unloading of cargo, a process in chemical or refining activities or distributing, storing and selling products. In all instances it requires the joint application of the experience, knowledge and know-how of a number of specialists, experts in their own field of activity.

We must, therefore, provide a concept of organization in which it becomes routine to gather all knowledge and experience to ensure safety in operations. Finally, the organizations should provide for the dissemination of information collected.

  • Great article. I am an OHS Consultant in a large Justice Agency, including Police, Firefighters and Prison Officers. The big issue for us is to create a safety culture in which safety is everyones business. Nearly every injury we have can be traced back to human error either from apathy or failing to follow procedures. The message does seem to be getting through though. Injuries have dropped by about 20% over the last 2 years.