5 THINGS I’VE LEARNT FROM WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS

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In our daily routine works, accident may occur that may results in fatality, injury or property loss. Many a time when accidents occur, the question we usually ask ourselves is; “How did it happen?” To answer such question and more, accident investigation team is assembled as soon as possible and it’s tasked with finding the major cause(s) that may have led to the accident.

Having the opportunity to work with different accident investigation teams, I’ve found these characteristics very common in most accident cases. These are;

1. Every Accident is caused, they don’t just happen. We often see accident as occurrences that happen unexpectedly but fail to add that it happens through our own cause, our own faults and through the cause of the surrounding condition which we ourselves have allowed. An employee who loses a tooth due to tripping and falling might have tripped on an object which should not have been placed where it was. In such situation, it is due to the carelessness of the employee that has caused him to lose a tooth. Like Shakespeare will put it; “The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves” that we are careless.

2. Somewhere, someone decided to take shortcut. During the cause of our work, we decide it is better we complete the schedules faster and as such disregard safety procedures. This exposes us to injuries or increases our chances of getting injured. Shortcuts are very tempting. Mostly we take shortcuts that do not result in injury and as such keep repeating it till one day we run out of luck. However tempting shortcuts may look, it is a sure way of opening the doorway to accidents and as such should be avoided.

3. Failure to Read the signs. Most accidents that happen on our sites usually happen after giving indications and signs. These signs come in the form of near miss. Near miss is very easy to disregard because of their nature. They are small and often insignificant and above all don’t result in injury or property damage. Due to this, we often let them go without investing energy and time to investigate and resolve it just like we would have done if it resulted in a major accident. Every near miss is a sign post to an impending disaster and most disasters happen because we failed to read the message the near miss brought.

4. Complacency. We are mostly opened to risk not because we are not aware of safety procedures but rather our complacent attitude towards work. We think it cannot happen to us because we have more ‘experience’. Immediately we begin to believe we are immune to certain accident, we begin to disregard procedures and cut corners to complete jobs.

5. Distractions. Most often, the happenings around our working environment may cause us to be distracted. Either a colleague talking to us and the same time operating a machine or even allowing personal issues at home interfere our focus on the work at hand. Such distractions make us drop our guard and make us susceptible to risk and dangers associated with the work we are doing.

There is no one single cause of accident. Accidents on our site may be caused by combination of factors which may include some of those discussed above or even outside the realm of what has been discussed here. No matter the nature of an accident, there’s the need for an investigation that can bring out the various causes so that mitigation measures could be build to avoid future recurrence.

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6 Reasons Safety Programs Fail

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Safety has always been a major concern for many organisations that wish to get more from their employees. These organisations usually come up with very great safety programs that seek to consolidate their vision of where safety should be. These safety programs usually are very rich in content and touch every aspect of work in the organisation yet after a short while, the program loses momentum and eventually dies out. The question then becomes; “what really happened?” Everything was going smoothly at first, so what actually made the program fail?

1. Lack of Clarity of Direction. Every safety program should have a direction and this direction should not be ambiguous to those it is applicable to. The targeted employees should be made aware and clearly communicated to what requires of them for the program to be successful. Many a time, a safety program is set rolling without the employees knowing what is expected of them. On some occasions too, employees are unaware of the problem the program actually seeks to solve. When this happens, employees become disinterested in the program and feel reluctant to contribute.

2. Lack of leadership. For a safety program to remain significant, the involvement of top management should be clearly seen by all employees. Management should also show commitment by offering leadership. In a situation whereby management are only interested in directing other employees and fail to show involvement, employees lose trust in the program. If it is required by the program for everyone to wear hardhats at a specific location, people in top management should also be seen using the hardhat in those locations. If managers lead, employees have little option than to follow.

3. Responsibilities have to be defined. Every employee should know what is required of them to make the program a success. Responsibilities have to be clearly assigned and line of reporting duly indicated. At any point in time, every employee should know and be ready to act the way it is expected of them.

4. No preferential treatment when an employee goes against the rules. When a rule is broken, punitive actions should follow. This should go for every employee no matter the position. It is when we become soft to certain sections of employees that order is broken.

5. Training of employees should not lack. Employees should be adequately armed to shine under the safety program. This should be in the form of giving them the required training to be able to understand and act safely at any given time. The right safety equipment should be provided at all times and be trained on how to properly use those safety equipments.

6. Encourage employees to report every incidence. Incidence reporting is the bases of accident prevention. When incidence, whether big or small, go unreported, it affects how proactive the safety program can be. Employees should not be made to feel scared to report incidence. They should be made to understand the importance of incidence reporting and how it makes it easy to prevent potential accident.