The World Book Dictionary provides several definitions for the word "primer". One definition states that it is a "first book" i.e. a Primer on Arithmetic. Another definition says it is a "first coat of paint" (1). This article will explore the risk management process beyond the premise of a first book but within the context of a first coat of paint. This primer will help to serve as a foundation in the continuing education of the safety professional.
Anyone who has painted a wall knows that the primer coat serves as a base or foundation for the second or finish coat to the painted wall. This article will attempt to brush the risk management paint adequately to enhance the future "coats" to be applied by the safety professional.
The safety professional in recent years has often been asked to take on a variety of job tasks andfunctions to control the cost of doing business within many organizations. In addition to safety and health the areas of security has become increasingly more important since the events of September 11, 2001. Business strategies may include acquisitions or mergers that require the safety professional to conduct due diligence that could impact the business portfolio of an organization. A quality initiative could impact the safety efforts by incorporating safety into the quality process. This can be done by developing metrics for safety similar to the standards used in quality control. An example my include a reduction in incidents through identification of hazards and developing corrective actions for minimizing these hazards. The safety professional must be aware of these needs and become a practice leader within his/her business not merely a safety and health technician. Safety professionals can no longer wait for direction they must become problem solvers and develop solutions to control costs and enhance profitability. To successfully accomplish these tasks may include changes in the organizational culture. In his book titled "Organizational Culture and Leadership", Edgar H. Schein defines culture as "a pattern of basic assumptions-invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration- that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems". (2). The safety professional must become a team player in this culture development as it relates to the management of risk.