The Zero-Harm Organization: Shifting the Focus From Injuries to Exposures
The zero harm goal is not simply an extension of injury reduction goals of the past. There are too many examples of organizations with low injury rates that continue to have fatalities, recordkeeping violations, and so on. Instead, zero-harm performance is about creating an environment where injuries are not acceptable and where we do everything possible to prevent them. In other words, we are not just targeting a lower number—we are aiming to develop a new way of thinking about safety performance.

One of the key characteristics of "zero harm" performance is a shift from a focus on injuries to exposures as the trigger for action and the measure of change. This focus means asking people to act when exposure increases, not just when an injury is imminent (or has already happened). Until we move the focus from injury prevention to exposure management we will continue to be surprised by seemingly "out-of-the-blue" events. This is not to say that transitioning to an exposure focus is not a deep paradigm shift. Asking people to act despite their belief that an injury will not occur—to halt the work, to ok the repair, to stop the crew, to miss the meeting at corporate to be visible for the safety summit, will not be easy. But with persistent attention from leadership, such a change is possible—and richly rewarding.

Drawing on real-world examples of organizations that are making this shift, this presentation discusses what an exposure focus means in terms of process, culture, and results, and outlines steps for getting there.


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Jim Spigener
Vice President and Executive Consultant

Jim Spigener assists senior managers from companies around the world in leveraging their roles to dramatically improve safety performance. Jim has helped hundreds of companies implement successful change initiatives in safety, quality, and leadership development. A former steward of the OCAW labor union (now PACE), Jim's experience on both the shop floor and in the management office gives him a unique perspective on organizational dynamics and an uncanny ability to motivate an audience to see new points of view. Jim is a dynamic speaker who has presented at hundreds of national and international conferences and has published several articles on performance improvement.


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