Workplace deaths on the decline! The Age, 8 January 2013.
If the rate of workplace deaths declines, anyone who has anything to do with workplace safety can pat themselves on the back and say that their efforts must be working – be it “enforcement”, “leadership”, “awareness”, “management”, “risk assessment”, “yellow jackets”. Anything really.
If you did it at the same time as the rate improved you can say your program worked. That might be right. It might not be right.
I would not mind betting that statistics would show that cars with leather seats are safer in a crash than cars with cloth seats. Let’s say this is true. Is this because of the leather seats? Probably not.
Simply because something happens at the same time as something else it does not mean one thing caused the other. Correlation does not equal causation. It would seem very likely that changing patterns of employment in various industries would have an impact on the incidence of workplace deaths. As one job goes from a relatively dangerous occupation and one more is added to a safer occupation the overall statistics improve without anyone doing anything. The impact of safety programs may therefore be illusory or at least overstated.