CEO calls disparity between injury, fatality rates a ‘disturbing trend’

October 24, 2012

Orlando, FL – While injury rates have fallen, serious injury and fatality rates remain high, suggesting a paradigm shift is necessary, Colin Duncan, CEO of safety consulting firm BST, said at the 2012 National Safety Council Congress & Expo.

Speaking during the occupational keynote Oct. 23, Duncan called the disparity a “disturbing trend.” Rather than adhere to the traditional safety pyramid, which says addressing nonfatal injuries at the bottom will help reduce fatalities at the top, BST research indicates that injuries and fatalities have different causes and require different approaches, he said. 

Duncan advocated developing an aggregate measure that would allow organizations to track fatalities, serious injuries, and recordable injuries with the potential to be a serious injury or fatality. The metric “is going to move us a long way forward,” he said.

Duncan also spoke about process safety management, noting that many catastrophic incidents share a common theme – technical failures caused by leadership and culture problems. He said safety professionals need to help leaders understand safety improvement is about continual change.

“As we all know as safety professionals, standing still is like going backwards – we’ve got to keep moving forwards,” Duncan said. “We need to help our leadership population understand that concept and understand their role within it.”