Safety at the workplace is one of the essential concerns of every worker, supervisor and enterprise manager. Our research was focused towards improving safety at the workplace through a better safety knowledge management. We have designed a safety knowledge management system (SaKnoMaS) which includes a safety knowledge map that will disseminate the resources towards the main components of the workplace system. The obtained  results are spectacular in a sense of way. Our prototype solution  improves safety and health at workplace with more than 30% through a better safety knowledge management.

Keywords: Safety knowledge management, safety knowledge map, risk reduction


Safety at the workplace is one of the essential concerns of every worker, supervisor and enterprise manager. However, safety understanding and implementation is very different. Safety, from the worker’s point of view is different from managerial safety image. Also, an external observer could have a very different safety image than the inside one. This difference of opinions is not necessarily bad. But when it  interferes with  an optimal safety assurance there could be problems.
In risk prevention knowledge is essential[1]. Simple information is not good enough. Knowledge in order to perform optimally and safely is a need. This knowledge must:

  • Show what to do;
  • Show how to do;
  • Show why to do so;
  • Safety culture;
  • Safety motivation;
  • Specific tasks;
  • Acquirement of knowledge- through elicitation tools like Acquire;
  • Internal representation of knowledge- there was sought a solution to optimize the old representation through knowledge rules; representation through knowledge rules is optimal  generally; an object oriented approach was considered as the best solution for optimization from this point on- so , the internal representation of knowledge was performed in the shape of knowledge objects.
  • Tailoring the knowledge in order to perform optimally for the safety domain- general knowledge could be a bit not prepared to solve specific safety problems. So , there is a need for safety knowledge that will allow the efficient solving of specific problems;
  • Storage of knowledge resources for further usage; the ideal storage solution was found in the form of knowledge seeds; knowledge seeds are roots of knowledge bases that can be further developed interactivelly through the users contribution; the next figure presents this solution;
  • Knowledge dissemination; we considered that the whole workplace could be used as a safety knowledge disseminator, partly through clasical means (posters, etc.) partly through ambiental friendly knowledge systems. In this respect we have developed portable disseminators, based on devices like PDA’s or Pocket PC’s.
  • If there is any need for supplemental knowledge;
  • What kind of knowledge is needed;
  • If the knowledge management process is performed;
  • If the knowledge management process is optimal or could be improved;
Not know
1.Do you have sufficient knowledge in order to avoid risks at workpace ?

Specific risks at workplace:
2.Do you have necessary and sufficient knowledge in order to perform the current activities ?

Current activities being performed:
3.Do you have the necessary and sufficient knowledge in order to perform usual activities ?

Usual activities being performed:
4.Do you have sufficient knowledge in order to use the existing workplace tools and devices ?

Most usual workplace tools and devices:
5.Do you have the necessary knowledge in order to perform maintenance activities ?

Current maintenance activities:
6.Do you have the necessary knowledge in order to perform first help and emergency activities ?

First help and emergency activities:
Not know
1.Do you have the necessary knowledge in order to perform current supervisory activities ?

Current supervisory activities:
2.Do you have the necessary knowledge in order to perform current workplace management activities ?

Current workplace management activities:
  • Acquirement of new knowledge- 22% of the intervieved persons have no such knowledge;
  • Improvement of the existing knowledge- 30% of the intervieved persons had just summary maintenance knowledge.
  • Development of new knowledge;
  • A safety knowledge assessment system;
  • A safety knowledge acquirement and processing system;
  • A safety knowledge dissemination system;

Knowledge could be the difference between a severe accident and 100% safety. Knowledge could also be the difference between loss and an optimal functioning of the enterprise.
Why knowledge ? Because knowledge could be seen as the cheapest safety resource. Knowledge is plenty through the trial and error everyday work experiences.
But knowledge is also a very expensive thing. Specific domain knowledge is invaluable. In order to acquire knowledge, to process it optimally (to tailor it according with the specific enterprise needs), to store it (in order to use it lately) or re-use it  and more important to disseminate knowledge among those who need it a knowledge management system is required.
Our research started with this fact, proved through numberless incidents and accidents occurred in Romania and caused by insufficient or improper allocated knowledge.
Through the usage of specific knowledge engineering methods and techniques correlated with safety mastering  procedures it could be defined and developed a better safety knowledge management.
Knowledge management is performed through assessment, prevention and risk reduction, as could be seen in the next figure.

Figure 1 Knowledge management and resource allocation

All those activities must be performed through resource allocation. Resource allocation is the central point of safety management and also of safety knowledge management. Resources allocated optimally could avoid economic loss, incidents and accident minimizing also the costs of prevention.
Knowledge could also improve safety attitudes, as shown in the next figure.
Some very important improvements could be obtained through mediated safety knowledge management from characteristics like:

Figure 2 Knowledge management and the improvement of human operator safety attitudes

So, the management of the knowledge resource could play a central part in the prevention game[2].
Knowledge resource is relatively cheap[3], at hand, easy to acquire and process. Used optimally it could be a definite asset in avoiding occupational incidents and accidents.
Unifying the safety vision in order to assure an united safety image for all the players at the workplace could also be obtained through knowledge management.
So, taking into account all these aspects and our previous research towards the safety knowledge engineering, we decided to start a research project focused on safety knowledge management.
Our research was focused towards improving safety at the workplace through a better safety knowledge management. This management, based on the knowledge engineering concept, could assure a unified safety vision, beneficial for everyone implied in the process.


In order to be able to process knowledge, there must be used techniques and methods connected with knowledge engineering[4].
Methods specific to knowledge engineering are used along the whole life cycle of  knowledge management. The next image presents the most significant aspects of knowledge management through knowledge engineering techniques, starting with safety knowledge acquirement and ending with knowledge dissemination.

Figure 3 Steps in knowledge management through 
knowledge engineering

Generally, expert tools were used in order to :

Figure 4 Knowledge storage structure

We have started our research with the goal to find the safety knowledge needs at  some specific workplaces. We have asked questions like : is there enough knowledge in order to perform safely a certain task ? Has the manager/supervisor of the workplace/worker the appropriate knowledge to do this or that ?
From these questions we have developed a knowledge management checklist which is used as a front for our Safety Knowledge Management System (SaKnoMaS).
The general SaKnoMaS schema is presented in the next figure.

Figure 5 SaKnoMaS general structure

It could be seen that the first step towards the management of safety knowledge at the workplace is represented by the assessment of the existent safety knowledge. This assessment is performed in order to know:
This knowledge assessment is performed on a threefolded structure:
·         On the first level the knowledge assessment is performed at the floor level of the enterprise, asking the workers;
·         On the second level, the knowledge assessment process is performed at the supervisor level- this level will give an image from the point of view of qualified workers;
·         On the third level, the knowledge assessment process is performed at the management level; this management level is the view from the top

Our system maps knowledge on the desired targets, as could be seen in the figure below.

Figure 6 SaKnoMaS and USKF

Our system is also a three leveled system.
On the first level there is the safety knowledge assessment system[5]. This system performs assessment on existing safety knowledge and establishes the need for supplemental safety knowledge and also the knowledge cathegories needed.
On the second level there is the processment and storage system- composed as stated before by a network of interactively developable knowledge bases.
On the third level there is the knowledge dissemination system [6]that allows the optimal dissemination of knowledge through tose implied in the work process.
All these systems are controlled by a control system.
Two examples from our knowledge assessment are presented below.


The developed prototype for the safety knowledge assessment component of the system was applied for 300 enterprises in the construction and  electric domains, in order to catch and analyse the knowledge needs.The checklists were modified in order to use a 1(most unfavourable) to 6(most favorable) scale of assessment. This scale is more precise than a yes-no one.
We think that some results are interesting from the need of knowledge point of view.Some of these most interesting results are presented graphically below.

a)Knowledge regarding existing risks at the workplace
This is one of the most important things in order to assure safety at workplace- to know what are the risks that are specifically acting there.

  Figure 7 Risk knowledge

As shown in figure a percent of 48% of the intervieved specialists have not the necessary knowledge in order to optimally identify and assess risks at the workplace.
Here, the usage of  SaKnoMaS is a primordial necessity with an essential need of a massive risk knowledge import from authorised sources.This import could be performed from risk assessment qualified sources.

b)Assessment of safety knowledge regarding current activities

Current activities are performed everyday and are the main work being done at the workplace. Current activities are important because about 75% of the incidents and accidents at workplace are occuring in current activities.
Current activities could be efficiently supported by knowledge.

Figure 8 Current activities knowledge

From this figure it could be seen that about 28%  percent of the intervieved workers had just a mediocre knowledge regarding the safety in current task that they perform. In this case SaKnoMaS could act as a knowledge improver and knowledge developer through the betterment of dissemination procedures.
SaKnoMaS could update the existing knowledge through new knowledge sources. Also, it could assure necessary hyperlinks to external knowledge sources.
SaKnoMaS could also consolidate knowledge in order to inprint this knowledge in the worker’s mind.
c)Assessment of  safety knowledge regarding maintenance

Figure 9 Maintenance knowledge needs

Here SaKnoMaS could help towards:
As stated before we have developed our system modularly, taking into account the need to:
·         Assess knowledge;
·         Acquire and process knowledge;
·         Disseminate knowledge; the system is conceived in order to run on IBM-PC and also on pocket devices like tablets or mobiles.
 An image of the SaKnoMaS running on a mobile  is presented in the figure below.

Figure 10 SaKnoMaS running on a Pocket PC


Knowledge is an essential asset in risk prevention and safety assurance at workplaces. Knowledge could be tailored in order to focus on specific problems at workplace.
Knowledge management could be a usefull instrument in managing this resource, assuring the necessary knowledge in the right place at the right time.
This paper present some highlights from a research developed inside the Romanian National Research Institute for Occupational Safety in the period 2001-2005.
This research was targeted towards the development of a efficient safety knowledge management system. This system is a need for every enterprise in order to optimise its safety state.
Till now there was developed a prototype containing three distinct systems:
The research continues towards the full development of this system.

[1] G.Arnold,R.Roane,Safety,Health and Environmental Management- a practitioner’s guide, International Risk Management Institute, 1998
[2] D.Petersen, Techniques of Safety Management (A systems Approach),Goshen NY,Alloray Inc, 1989
[3] I.Masaaki,Kaizen,Ney York Random House Buisness Division, 1986
[4] T.Kletz,Lessons from Disasters, Institute of Chemical Engineers
[5] T.Ferry,Safety and health management planning, New York,N.Y.Times Book 1982
[6] R.C.Grote,Bringing about a system change, Performance System Corporation, Dallas, 1989