NOIRS 1997 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 1997. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997 Oct; :13
Traditional health surveillance methods are based on a disease-and-illness model. That is, the model is used to respond to the incidence of illness and disease by categorizing and counting such incidences and describing the circumstances surrounding the occurrence. This approach is dictated by perceptions of a cause-and-effect relationship where the cause is not readily observable and a significant time lapse lies between the initial cause (source) and its effect (illness). Hence, traditional health surveillance has, by necessity, often been reactive and descriptive rather than proactive and predictive. Such a reactive surveillance model, as stated in the NORA research guideline document (p. 53), is deficient where the topic of concern is worker safety, and the effect of a triggered hazard is usually immediate with often fatal results. Surveillance activities, where used to prevent traumatic injury, must identify these workplace hazards and the conditions that trigger accidents. It is often possible to identify the causes of accidents in terms of hazards and triggering conditions and thus predict possible effects before an accident occurs. The author claims that an effective hazard surveillance model for hazard identification and accident prediction requires a proactive approach, an approach that is feasible using well-established, systematic, safety-analysis procedures. This paper describes two broad safety-analysis approaches, inductive and deductive, and then suggests how these approaches can be used to anticipate accidents so that preventive measures can be taken. Preliminary hazard analysis is described as an example of an inductive approach, while fault tree and event tree analyses are described as examples of deductive approaches. The mining industry provides examples for each approach: a fault tree analysis of a blocked ore chute in a deep metal mine and a preliminary hazard analysis of a longwall escapeway in a coal mine. The author concludes that these methods could improve hazard surveillance results and provide new insights into cause-and-effect relationships related to risk and traumatic injury in mining.