Safety 101 - Lesson 29

There are always attempts to change the fundamental approaches to risk management and it can be altered to your department's needs.


Through the years, industrial safety gurus have followed two approaches to managing risks.

The first approach involved a simplistic method advocated by safety experts as far back as the 1930's. This included initiatives to:

  • engineer out the problem,
  • use personal protective equipment,
  • conduct proper training, and
  • implement administrative controls as necessary.

Another approach was advanced by risk management and insurance specialists which dates back to the 70's. This involves five possible actions to manage risks and includes:

  • risk avoidance,
  • loss prevention,
  • loss reduction,
  • segregation or separation of risk, and
  • transfer of risk.

What has become important over time is that we understand risk and its impact on our respective departments. There are two aspects of risk to be concerned with:

  • controlling risk, and
  • financing risk.

There are always attempts to change these fundamental approaches. However, in the end, most changes are just a "tweak" of the existing approach. Recently, however, Roger Jensen, CSP, CPE, a professor of occupational safety, process safety, and ergonomics released a document on Risk Reduction Strategies (Hazard Control) that warrant review.

Jensen first reviews work completed by William Haddon, which was completed through the 1970's. Haddon's 10 generic safety strategies was intended to encompass all of the various strategies for preventing injury, mitigating the damage from injurious events, and rehabilitating or restoring the damaged person or thing. It encompasses a broad concept of injury, including personal injury caused by traumatic events, and damage to health through long term exposures and harm to the environment. Haddon's 10 Hazard Control Strategies include:

  1. Prevent the creation of the hazard in the first place
  2. Reduce the amount of the hazard brought into being
  3. Prevent the release of a hazard that already exists
  4. Modify the rate or spatial distribution of the hazard from its source
  5. Separate in time or in space the hazard and that which is to be protected.
  6. Separate the hazard and that which is to be protected by interposition of a material barrier.
  7. Modify relevant basic qualities of the hazard
  8. Make that to be protected more resistant to damage from the hazard.
  9. Begin to counter the damage done by the environment.
  10. Stabilize, repair, and rehabilitate the object of the damage.

Jensen then modifies the Haddon approach to nine risk reduction strategies into a three level hierarchy of control which includes:

Priority 1 - Control by eliminating the hazard

Strategy 1 - Eliminate the hazard

Priority 2 - Control by designing for effectiveness with minimal human effort

Strategy 2 - Moderate the hazard

Strategy 3 - Avoid release of the hazard

Strategy 4 - Modify release of the hazard

Strategy 5 - Separate the hazard from that which needs to be protected

Priority 3 - Control through human effort and behavior

Strategy 6 - Help people perform safely

Strategy 7 - Use personal protective equipment

Strategy 8 - Improve the resistance of that which needs to be protected

Strategy 9 - Expedite recovery

These two approaches reflect continuous improvement by critically examining and refining basic approaches to industrial safety.

The challenge to the fire service is to adapt such a philosophy to firefighter safety and make it an expected standard for safe operation. The IAFC Health and Safety Committee attempted such a global initiative which is indicated below.


Firefighter Injury/Life Safety Risk

Low Risk

High Probability of Success

Initiate offensive operations. Continue to monitor risk factors

Marginal Probability of Success

Initiate offensive operations. Continue to monitor risk factors

Low Probability of Success

Initiate offensive operations. Continue to monitor risk factors

Firefighter Injury/Life Safety Risk

Medium Risk

High Probability of Success

Initiate offensive operations. Continue to monitor risk factors. Employ all available risk options

Marginal Probability of Success

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