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Safety managers turning to data to assess risks

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Safety professionals are increasing their focus on statistics and metrics relevant to business executives such as total cost of risk, a new study from Aon Global Risk Consulting, a unit of Aon P.L.C. finds.

The study, “Safety Management Function — Organization and Responsibilities,” is based on a June 2014 survey of 150 environmental, health and safety and risk professionals and scheduled to be formally unveiled next week in Dallas at the annual meeting of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Asked about their most pressing EHS issues in the upcoming year, managing total cost of risk, was the top response at 72%, followed by regulatory compliance at 58%, and results tracking at 44%.

Elsewhere, when queried about how important it is have a comprehensive understanding of their organization's total cost of risk, 70% said it was extremely important and 20% said it was moderately important.

“Safety professionals need to speak the language of the business and should strive to balance operational efficiencies for the benefit of the firm and employees alike,” said Deborah Weigand, Detroit-based managing director of casualty risk consulting for Aon Global Risk Consulting.

The study also found that there is no established or favored reporting structure for or within the EHS profession, with respondents indicating they report to a variety of departments including finance and human resources (15%), operational management (20%), and risk management (24%).

“Sometimes reporting structures will follow the philosophy of the company,” Ms. Weigand said. “For example, reporting structures where the safety manager reports to the legal department tend to be very compliance-oriented. If safety reports to operations, it can help avoid situations where safety is at odds with productivity.”