To Have or To be: The Dilemma of Integrating Prevention in the Company of the Future
Everybody understands the difference between having occupational risk prevention (ORP from here on) integrated in the Company and being a Company that integrates prevention.
ORP is integrated in an organization when it encompasses both direct and indirect preventive measures. Direct measures involve technical, administrative and human actions including mechanisms for participation and consultation among employees regardless of their position or function in the Company. On the other hand, indirect ones takes into account both internal factors such as management, investments, human resources or supply management and external ones including management of value chain and stakeholder needs.
Luckily, there is an increasing number of companies that incorporate the ORP by adopting these direct preventive measures. But, are they integrating ORP? Are they adopting indirect measures? If the answer is negative, latent factors will exist that are not taken into account and can cause damage to workers health.
The Erich Fromm dilemma is present in current companies’ strategic decisions. Prevention can be understood as an action for legal accomplishment or as an ethics and moral issue, reflected in the organization’s strategic planning.
To be a company that thinks in prevention and take their decisions by scientific standards and obviating appearance factors means to be positioned in this Century’s preventive paradigm and not just staying in the visible part of the iceberg. We must work harder, thus, in the study and prevention of latent factors.
Faced with the dilemma of being or having, a series of questions arise: Why is prevention so marginated in the field of R&D? Why are it’s decisions based on other areas and applies their methods without critical sense? Why ORP seems more like a technic than a science? The question is not vain at all. Many technicians trust more in possible interventions derived from the experience and data mining results than in scientifically contrasted results.
Surely there exist infinite reasons which have led prevention far away from science and close to technical applications, as it is being done in commercial and customer relationship management departments. But, should we summarize the interest on workers' safety and health in a simple worker relationship management? The answer seems to be affirmative. Which then should be the position of scientists, management and social agents against this trend to “Worker Relationship Management” (WRM)?
One of the problems to be solved is the lack of dialogue, that difficult the exchange of experience between all interested parts in ORP. And I am not talking about conventional meetings where everyone magnifies the importance of his job without a critical analysis or assessing other proposals, keeping off the needed learning for the progress. The interrelationship is a sine qua non condition, as was seen in the origin of scientific progress at the beginning of XX Century. In these congresses not only participated scientists, but also technicians who developed devices and managed projects, and also included businessmen for funding them and the press for their divulgation. This critical exchange, both internal and external is, in my opinion, the way towards the progress.
If the scientific organization of work started coarsely and almost offensively – let’s remember its origin based on military organization systems making comparison between human and animals - the scientific organization of prevention is still babbling fearfully and hesitant.
Nowadays, there are huge quantities of knowledge provided by professionals such as doctors, psychologists, engineers, toxicologists… who live for prevention, we think that this is the best moment to improve and position the preventive science. This should allow us to generate a high level knowledge to aid organizations in being healthy, safe and competitive.
Now is the moment, the ORP’15 offers the chance to exchange, discuss, assess and provide our point of view for progressing constantly, with scientific accuracy for arriving to the excellence through the development of a prevention based on the new possibilities and needs of this Century.
We are waiting for you for share, discuss and impulse the prevention between all of us!
Prof. Pedro R. Mondelo
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya