5 FACTORS THAT MAKE US ACCIDENT-PRONE

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In our everyday working environment we may come across employees who seem to sustain one injury after another. These employees are easily noticeable because they are the finishers of the band aids. They hardly go through a period without sustaining some sort of injury. We usually refer to these employees as people with ‘accident prone’ personality or accident-prone for short.

Accident proneness is a controversial subject with some safety experts associating it with certain individual traits like chronic anger, over confidence, aggressiveness etc. This, notwithstanding, there are some factors that make all of us prone to accidents in our working environment;

1. Misperception of risk. Many employees either underestimate risky situations or overestimate their ability to confront risk so much so that they disregard safety procedures at work. These employees usually end up being overwhelmed by incidence that leads to serious injury or property loss. As long as certain employees feel invulnerable to risk, they would continue to take most risk that would endanger their working conditions

2. Fatigue. Some workers due to their nature of duties have to work longer period than others. Also, increasing workloads usually force workers to work lots of overtime that make them exhausted. Employees working under exhaustion are likely to be injury prone than their counterparts who are working a normal schedule

3. Working without Complete instruction. Before an employee set off to begin a task, they should be armed with all the necessary instructions needed to complete the task safely. Employees who are not well informed and not well trained for a particular job should not be made to take on a task since it exposes them to all the dangers associated with such job. The likelihood of such employee being injured becomes very high.

4. Alcohol usage whiles at work. Employees who work whiles under the influence of alcohol are highly prone to falls, cuts and burns. Alcohol affects our balance and sense of judgement and should be avoided at all cost in our working environment.

5. Unsafe working environment. Employers are to ensure that a safe working environment is provided at all times for employees. All hazards in our working environment should properly be identified and removed. As employees, not all factors are directly in our control. It is the duty of employers to provide safe working machinery and run a proper safety programmes to ensure employees are well informed for their respective works

Accidents can be prevented from occurring if we put in place the right measures. When the measures to prevent accidents are in place but you still experience a repetition of accidents, then it‘s about time you begin to assess yourself considering the factors discussed above.

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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.

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.

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7 WAYS OF GETTING EMPLOYEES INVOLVED WITH HEALTH AND SAFETY

Every organisOccupational_Safety_Equipmentation that has the welfare of its employees at heart has programs put in place to ensure workers are always safe as they go about with their everyday duties. These programs are usually put together by top management and push down to the floor to be followed by the employees. Most often than not, these programs fail not because it was not well structured or well instituted but rather, the employees who these programs were made for consciously or unconsciously refused to follow or be involved with these safety programs.

The question then is, “how do we get employees to be part or involved with safety programs?” There are no one answer to such question. What really works depend on a lot of factors which some are discussed below.

  1. Employees Must Be Given Health and Safety Responsibilities. Employees must know what is expected of them when it comes to safety. Just as their responsibilities are spelt out in the contract letters, safety responsibilities must also be included there in. This way, employees are always aware about the commitment they have with health and safety and the need to treat safety issues with the urgency it deserves just as they do with their duties and responsibilities.
  2. Make Employees Owners of the Safety Process. Employees must be well motivated to take part of the safety processes of the organisation and the most powerful source of motivation comes from their being able to own the process. To do this, employees must be adequately trained and given the appropriate tools and resources to be able to take charge of the process. It is only when employees are made owners of the process will the process itself survive in the long run.
  3. Encourage Employees to Report Workplace Hazards. Hazard identification and reporting is one of the backbone of every successful safety programs. Getting employees to report on workplace hazards helps them to be an input of the program. To sustain employees enthusiasm in reporting hazards, hazards reported must be duly worked on and the feedback given to the employees. When reported hazards are not rectified, employees lose interest in reporting hazards and that goes a long way to hurt safety processes.
  4. Get Workers Involved in Making safety Decisions. When workers are consulted in making safety decisions, they feel part and parcel of the whole safety programs. Their enthusiasm is sustained in the program when they realise their inputs are well respected and incorporated into safety systems. Consulting employees on issues such as PPE selection, safe systems of work and other decisions affecting their wellbeing is very essential. This can be done through safety representations, selecting delegate or volunteers from employees to give opinion on matters of health and safety
  5. Constant Marketing of Health and Safety Programs. At every opportunity and in every discussion, employees must be made aware of the ongoing health and safety programs. Every meeting can be started with a “safety share” and through that safety programs will be made known to employees. Constant selling of safety programs is essential in getting workers on their toe about health and safety issues. In every corner and in every place where workers usually gather, safety slogans can be pasted there to sensitize workers on ongoing safety campaign.
  6. Promote Health and Safety Day. A day should be chosen where employees are allowed to bring their grievances on safety on board to be discussed. On this day, majority of employees should be given the chance to talk about their observations and the way forward. This day can be the opportunity to discuss health and safety records and the improvement needed.
  7. Give Employees Safety Task. Identify leaders from the workers rank and involve them in various safety activities such safety observations, workplace inspections, and in training. Give these leaders the platform to communicate their findings to the entire workforce. Encourage others who might also want to be involved to take part in the safety task.