Absence of conflict of interest.
Burgess, J. L. (2016). Implementation of risk management programs: Identification of best practices to reduce injuries and maximize economic benefits. (Report No. AFC113-07). Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of risk management practices on mine worker health and safety outcomes.
- The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the differences in 25-year injury rates and lost time injury rates between four mines that implemented risk management practices and a matched comparison group of mines that did not.
- The study found that implementation of risk management practices in one mine was significantly associated with a lower lost time injury rate than the comparison group of mines.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not account for preexisting differences between the groups before the intervention or include sufficient control variables. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the risk management practices; other factors are likely to have contributed.
Features of the Intervention
Risk management (RM) is a cyclical process that includes (1) identifying activities at high risk for injuries; (2) redesigning procedures to reduce risks; (3) implementing changes to reduce risk; and (4) evaluating the effectiveness of the changes. The four mines in the study implemented different RM interventions that included behavioral and educational programs focused on safety, policy, administrative, and/or engineering controls:
- Partner A, an underground coal mine, implemented several RM practices between 2002 and 2010. This included the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) Stop-Look-Analyze-Manage (SLAM) training and safe work observations, fatal risk control protocols, Zero Incident Process Training, peer audits, Move Smart Program, and fatigue management.
- Partner B, a surface and underground metal mine, implemented informal RM activities between 1999 and 2003 such as the Surveyors of Safety, field level risk assessment, and team risk assessment activities. The mine also used a “five-point card” system that reminded miners to start an informal risk assessment in five specific domains prior to beginning work.
- Partner C, an aggregate cement plant, implemented engineering interventions between 2001 and 2007 including updating/modernizing the plant bagging system, building a control center, and modernizing the warehouse. The plant also implemented MSHA’s SLAM training.
- Partner D, a surface and underground coal mine, implemented behavioral interventions including a behavioral-based safety program in 2003 and a human performance improvement program in 2010.
Features of the Study
The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of four U.S. mines with extensive RM experience to a matched comparison group of mines that did not implement RM practices. Comparison mines were restricted by mine type, product type, MSHA jurisdictional district, and standard industrial code. This resulted in 245 to 847 mines that were available for matching. The author matched treatment and comparison mines on several characteristics including mine hours, number of miners, year of operation, number of years in operation, and total production (for coal mines only) using propensity scores. Outcomes included 25-year injury rate (1989 to 2013) and the lost time injury rate, which was defined as injuries resulting in at least one day of lost work. Using MSHA's Accident, Injury, and Illness data, the authors conducted statistical models to examine the impact of the risk management practices on injury rates.
Health and safety
- The study found that implementation of RM practices was significantly associated with a lower lost time injury rate for Partner D. No significant relationships were found between RM practices and lost time injury rates for the other treatment mines.
- The study found no significant associations between RM practices and 25-year injury rates.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Although treatment and comparison mines were matched on mine hours, number of miners, year of operation, number of years in operation, and total production (for coal mines), the author did not match on or control for injury rate or lost time injury rate before the intervention. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the risk management practices—could explain the observed differences in outcomes. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not account for preexisting differences between the groups before the intervention or include sufficient control variables. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the risk management practices; other factors are likely to have contributed.