Impression of Safety Afternoon Workshop

On 5 March 2014, a Safety Afternoon with the theme “Safety – A Paper Tiger” was organized by ESV Technisch Adviesbureau BV in cooperation with the Nederlandse Vereniging van Veiligheidskundigen [Dutch Society for Safety Science] Central Netherlands Region. At this Afternoon, with approximately 25 participants, Bert Stap from ESV Technisch discussed the tendency many companies have to hide behind all kinds of instructions and procedures while forgetting the “hard” side of safety. One of his statements was: “Safety must be enforced (removing or reducing risk), as far as possible, at the source.“

The SZW Report from August 2013 was also referenced during the workshop. In this report, the Inspectorate SZW concluded that “Based on the results of the inspections and on the experiences of the inspectors, it appears that many of the economic operators do not really understand the process of bringing safe products to market. They do know that a product must comply with some requirements, but they are not familiar with exactly what must occur.”

During a forum discussion, the following topics were addressed:

  • As a result of the abundance of European regulations and European harmonized standards, it has become almost impossible for a Safety Expert to have sufficient knowledge of Machine Safety.
  • Who knows how many European Directives there are in the area of safety? Doesn’t this large number of regulations contribute, at least in part, to the problem of small companies, in particular, becoming increasingly less informed of their legal obligations?
  • In recent years, the work terrain of the Safety Expert has continued to broaden. Most Safety Experts, however, are no longer involved solely with safety. Within the organization, they are often responsible for tasks within other disciplines as well. To what extent is a Safety Expert still sufficiently equipped to handle the practical, hard machine safety? Of those present, who still dares to draw up a supplementary machine safety or work equipment risk inventory (ARIE)?

The participants were then able to discuss the following statements:


Lawyers and consultants have pulled safety and machine safety far too far into the “liability” sphere.
As a result, many managers in the business world work according to the[1] “cover my ass” principle.
In many companies, more attention is paid and more money is spent on writing reports and drawing up risk inventories than on actual, physical safety. Mountains of procedures and instructions are considered essential and are therefore drawn up. However, verification of compliance with the procedures and instructions is often performed much too infrequently by line management.

Statement 1: “Too many procedures and instructions do not ultimately contribute to safety within the company.”


In most companies, the immediate supervisors do not dare to speak to their subordinates about their behaviour.

Statement 2: “Compliance with the rules can only be achieved with sufficient control!”


In recent years in the area of safety, a great deal of attention has been paid to the subject of human behaviour. Of course, human behaviour and the culture of an organization are extremely important aspects of safety.

Statement 3: “The increased focus on behaviour and culture has had a negative influence on the realization of the practical source safety.”


The limited control from the government (smaller government) is part of the reason for the lack of compliance with safety directives. This opinion is endorsed by a number of inspectors from the Inspectorate SZW!

Statement 4: “More control by the government ensures a higher level of safety.”

At the end of the Safety Afternoon, the participants could look back on a very informative and fruitful afternoon. For more information about upcoming Safety Afternoons, click on the buttons below.

ESV Technisch Adviesbureau
  • Mercuriusweg 30 - 3771 NC - Barneveld
  • +31 (0)342-424251
ESV Technisch Adviesbureau BV België
  • Kapelsesteenweg 292 - 2930 Brasschaat
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