Is Zero Harm just a corporate mantra?

6 Aug 2014 - 10:30
Wynaand Van Dyk

Is Zero Harm just a corporate mantra, or an inspiration that can be turned into reality? The question was asked at the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment’s annual plenary safety lecture. The guest speaker was Mr Wynaand Van Dyk, the founding director of Arete Consultants and a strategic consultant to managers and executives of various international mining houses regarding SHE and Operational Risk Management in the Minerals Industry.

The common criticisms of Zero Harm are that people do not believe the slogan, so you are at an impasse before you start. The emphasis is on lag indicators – clean-out low hanging fruit but high-end risk is unaffected. It also implies that all injuries can be prevented.

Van Dyk said people confused Zero Harm with Zero Risk. You can manage the level of risk to achieve the outcome of Zero Harm. To deliver Zero Harm you need a risk management plan in place. You need competent people, safe work practices, fit for purpose equipment and a controlled work environment.

He ended off by saying that a risk management system must enable leaders to look ahead, pick up patterns developing and act decisively before the tipping point is reached.