In a "perfect" safety management system, in an industrial production environment, we would expect to find all potential workplace hazards identified with effective controls in place to prevent each hazard from resulting in or contributing to a workplace accident. For this to happen, I would envision a company with a solid, centralized safety management system in place, adequately staffed and funded at all levels to carry out the safety function. This group of safety professionals would have pro-actively and meticulously assessed the work environment to identify all hazards. They would have compared the existing hazard controls against the hierarchy of controls; eliminating and/or provided engineering controls for each hazard where possible. For remaining hazards where elimination and engineering control was not possible they would have implemented a perfect behavior management system. In this regard there is a oneness of purpose that separates safety from the factors associated with production and quality. (Haight, Yorio, Rost & Willmer 2014)
For most of us who work in general industry this truly is a vision commensurate with Dorothy in the Land of Oz. In the real world we don't find many companies with strong centralized safety management, well developed and implemented top down instructions and sufficiently funded and staffed safety departments. I do believe that the vision of pro-active risk assessment is now being recognized as the way toward an achievable system of continuous improvement as it relates to hazard identification and risk reduction. One subset of workplace hazards are those hazards associated with machinery. Control of these hazards alone requires a major management initiative. Even today in the year 2017 we find production equipment "home grown", custom made in house, along with other equipment originally made decades earlier. When we examine this equipment we may find some guarding, no guarding or evidence of guarding that was removed. Often, the existing machine hazard control is the simple awareness of the hazard and hopeful avoidance by the operator.