A major theme for the research at IRS is methods for safety analysis, accident investigations, and safety management. Research includes theoretical studies, as well as practical development and applications of methods. During recent years, most of the projects have only been published in Swedish. Examples of actual themes are:
● Barriers and safety functions
● Accident investigations
● Safety management on a community level (only documented in Swedish)
Application areas have mainly been occupational and industrial safety, but new areas have emerged such as:
● Patient safety
● Railway safety
● Fire protection (only documented in Swedish)
Barriers and safety functions
There are 9 articles on this theme in the list of reports. One recent article demonstrates the application on accident investigations, and another on analysis of an industrial system.
The barrier concept is fundamental in the analysis of safety in a system. A number of studies at IRS have tested the development of the more generalised concept “safety function”. It is defined as: A technical or organisational function, a human action or a combination of these, which can reduce the probability and/or consequences of accidents and other unwanted events in a system.
● Analysis of safety functions and barriers in accidents (Harms-Ringdahl 2009)
● Assessing safety functions – results from a case study at an industrial workplace (Harms-Ringdahl 2003)
In Sweden, there is a growing interest in qualified accident investigations, as a resource for improved accident prevention. IRS has been involved in:
● Developing a university course in Advanced accident investigation methodology at Karlstad University.It has been held over more than ten years.
● ESReDA had a working group on accident investigations, which has performed a number of activities. One result is Guidelines for Safety Investigations of Accidents.
● A study for comparing accident investigations with other safety activities was made within that framework.
Patient safety and adverse events in hospital care have got on increasing attention due to the large number of injuries and deaths. A Swedish study indicated 3000 avoidable deaths during hospital care on a population on 9 million. Such a fatality rate is in agreement with studies in other countries. IRS has made an study of three near accidents related to use pharmaceuticals in hospital care. The analyses have resulted in nearly 200 suggestions for improvements addressing different organisational levels. Full report only in Swedish, but short English summary have been made in (Harms-Ringdahl 2009; section 3.4).
IRS has been involved in a few projects in the railway sector. Examples are:
● Safety rules - “Safety Rule Management in Railways” is a part of the larger European project Safety Management in Railways - SAMRAIL. Within that there is a specific Swedish case study (2004).
● Another study has concerned a structural analysis of safety rules based on the safety function concept (2004)
● IRS has carried through a number of training courses for the Swedish railway sector.