Theories of Safety and Health Management

Sponsored Article by Dr. N. Venkataraman

Traditionally, Safety and Health management has revolved around requirements of legal, and voluntary to satisfy stakeholder’s needs. Safety and health management is important to analyses the different other theories that are applicable to ensure a positive safety and health outcomes. Some of the models or theories on management principles are given below:

Blame Theory
Let us understand the difference in the understanding of the words accountability and blame. To be accountable is “to be counted on or reckoned on.” To blame is “to find fault with, to censure, revile, reproach.” Accountability emphasizes keeping agreements and performing jobs in a respectful atmosphere, while blaming is an emotional process that discredits the person who is blamed. When something goes wrong like an incident in an workplace, the first question that is often asked is, “Whose fault is it?” Once we narrow down as who’s at fault, we then try to find out what is wrong with that persons. Only when we discover what is wrong with them, we tend to feel, we have understood the gravity of the issue. Where there is blame, there is technically, no learning. Where there is blame, open minds close, problem finding tends to close, and the desire to understand the whole system naturally diminishes. When people work in an atmosphere of blame, they naturally cover up their errors and hide their real concerns. And when energy goes into finger pointing, scapegoating, and denying responsibility, productivity suffers, incident occurs, because the organization lacks information about the real issue and conditions. We all know, it’s almost impossible to make good and right decisions with poor information. So, what is the solution, organisations should move away from blame to accountability in fostering a responsible safety and health management system at workplace.

Game Theory
Game theory was invented by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern in 1944 and has come a long way since then. Game theory is a powerful framework that enables managers to analyze systematically the ties among interactions between different workforce in a workplace and to develop appropriate strategies for a better safety and health outcomes. Game theory*1 has been applied in many construction sites. Using Game Theory for Improving Safety*2 within Chemical Industrial Parks presents an in-depth discussion of game-theoretic modeling which may be applied to improve cross-company prevention and -safety management in a chemical industrial park.

Same Theory
Same theory equates everyone are treated at par relative to the appointment. Some experts call this as equal opportunity employer. In this theory, management imparts treme3ndous accountability and authority to the line management. Most developed companies, attribute their positive safety and health outcomes to this concept where there is no blame on individuals and collectively ownership is maintained. This is one of the most positive safety culture that gives positive outcomes. These Same theory persons are similar to Theory Y persons which assumes employees are internally motivated, enjoy their job, and work to better themselves without a direct reward in return. The managers of Same theory persons view their coemployees as one of the most valuable assets to the company, driving the internal workings of the workplace. Employees additionally tend to take full responsibility for their work and do not need close supervision to create a safe and healthy environment.

Fame Theory
Attention seeking behavior is to act in a way that is likely to elicit attention, usually to elicit validation from others. Most attention seekers are those who also wish to have fame in all their activities. Such people are thought to engage in both positive and negative behavior independent of the actual benefit or harm to safety and health. Fame seekers take the credit of the other’s work and undermine actual worker’s hardwork. Most such behavior is generally driven by self-consciousness and thus an externalization of personality rather than internal and self-motivated behavior. It is hard for organisation to identify fame seeking safety and health professionals. However, when these people are motivated by positive intention management should encourage them. On the contrary, these people can be disastrous to the unity of the team and can cause prefunding damage on safety and health outcomes.

Lame Theory
Gabriel Lame’s theorem provides the solution to thick cylinder problem using stress and strain on the surface thickness due to the radius. The theorem is based on the assumptions of Material of the cylinder is homogeneous and isotropic while the plane sections of the cylinder perpendicular to the longitudinal axis remain plane under the pressure. Similar to this theorem is the Lame theory on Safety and health, which tries to give a solution to safety and health hazards. There is a minimum and maximum stress that employee can handle in order to work in safe and healthy manner. Although there are no scientific definition to mention as what level of stress is acceptable, demographics and workload of the activities will determine the maximum allowable difference in stress levels. The challenge for the organisation is to ensure stress levels are within a narrow spectrum, thereby the workers can efficiently manage their work in a safe manner. This Lamw theory person is similar to Theory X person, which is based on assumptions that the typical worker has little ambition, avoids responsibility, and is individual-goal oriented. In general, Theory X style managers believe their employees are less intelligent, lazier, and work solely for a sustainable income.

Tame Theory
It may take a while for Workplace to be tamed from being dangerous or hazardous condition to a very safe workplace. This requires top management commitment, including conducting regular walkabouts, walk by talk, timeouts and support from other employees. Tame theory personnel are often reactive and act based on incidents or findings.

1. The game theory applications in construction safety management, downloaded from
2. Using game theory to improve safety within chemical industrial parks, downloaded from

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