Slips and Falls
Why is janitorial work often done at the end of the workday in many offices? Why are “Wet Floor” signs posted in areas where cleaning is being done? You are correct, because of the possibility of slips and falls!
Stairs and floor cleaning should be done after work hours — or, in a 24/7 plant, pedestrian traffic should be detoured during the cleaning.
Cordons should be put up with signage showing a safe place to walk.
You should not develop the habit of rushing about but should walk at a brisk pace, taking care to look where you are going.
As in most cases, clear thinking can avoid slip and fall accidents.
Speaking in broad terms, there are three ways you can suffer a fall on the job—and possibly suffer from the fall. You can lose your balance; you can trip over a floor defect or something improperly left or dropped in a walkway; or you can fall from a position in which you are being supported above the floor or ground.
To avoid slips and resulting falls, be on the lookout for foreign substances on the floor. Watch out for deposits of water, grease, oil, broken glass, cleaning agents, or debris. Even small quantities of these substances, sometimes almost too small to see, can be dangerous.
When you enter a building from outdoors in rainy weather, wipe your shoes thoroughly on a doormat—not just to keep the floor clean but to prevent wetness of your shoes from making you slip and, perhaps, fall. Another point about walking safely: Don’t turn too sharply when changing your direction!
Now, let’s give our attention to tripping hazards. Some that are all too common are garbage or unused material left in aisles or other areas intended for pedestrian traffic, extension cords across paths of travel, tools not put away, and holes or unevenness in the floor.
It will help keep passageways clean if you make sure garbage or waste goes in the bin provided. There are enough waste receptacles around that taking this safety step shouldn’t take much time.
Walk where you’re supposed to walk. Don’t take shortcuts; especially don’t take shortcuts through machinery areas. Hold onto the handrails when walking on stairs. If material or equipment is stored on stairways or ramps, move it or report it promptly.
Horseplay—just plain goofing off—can be dangererous. It can cause a trip, stumble, or fall by distracting your attention from moving safely.
Foiling the Long Fall
To avoid those long falls that can cripple for a lifetime or even prove fatal, you should pay close attention to the rules of ladder and scaffolding safety. When you need to climb, use a ladder—the proper length ladder. Don’t climb on machinery, stock, crates, or boxes. Be sure that the ladder is in good condition. When using a straight ladder, keep the distance from the ladder’s base to the wall at one-fourth the distance from the base to its point of support. Don’t reach too far from a ladder. Use a safety harness if both hands are to be occupied. Never stand above the third step from the top. Remember the three-point contact rule: two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand must always be in contact when descending a ladder.
When using scaffolds, check carefully for defects and proper installation. When metal scaffolding is assembled, the maker’s instructions should be accurately followed. The standing and work surfaces should be kept level and clean. Toe boards help prevent tools from falling and lessen the danger of slipping. If possible, work with someone well versed in scaffolding safety.
Falls are one of the major causes of occupational injuries—including fatal ones. We should do our best to prevent situations that can lead to falls. Be aware and careful!
Have you ever bumped into another person or had a cart pushed into you? Have you ever been hit by a falling or flying object? These accidents can result in more than bruises! They can cause serious injuries.
How would you like to have a big stack of boxes tumble down on top of you? Of course you wouldn’t, and neither would anyone else. The best way to prevent this is to avoid stacking materials too high; stack them in such a way that they absolutely cannot fall. Even if you take time to stack items properly, you can’t depend on everyone else taking the same care. You should make a habit of inspecting the environment for this type of hazard; this can prevent an accident.
A door is another moving object that often strikes people. Most people know what it feels like to approach a door, perhaps with arms full, and have the door open suddenly from the other side. Some have learned the hard way that if windowless doors open toward you, it’s best to approach them with caution. Never stand in front of such a door for an extended period of time. If you must work in such an area, prop the door open and secure it, or place a sign on the opposite side of the door. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t use a ladder where a door opens toward it unless you can be sure, by locking the door or propping it open, that the door will not be opened. Of course, out of consideration for those on the other side, you should not push a door open rapidly or forcefully. When approaching double doors, follow signs indicating which door to use.
People, too, can be safety hazards if they do not watch where they are going. While walking, don’t get so engrossed in a conversation that you don’t notice threats to your safety that are right in front of you. When approaching a corner or intersection in a hallway, walk in the center of the hallway instead of next to the wall where you cannot see or be seen by those traveling in other directions. Perhaps the employees in your work area can reduce the chance of bumping into each other by agreeing to walk only on the right sides of hallways. Think about how this type of accident can be avoided; the next person you bump into could be carrying hot coffee or sharp objects.
There is a possibility of bumping into or being bumped into by a cart of some kind. You may not be injured, but who wants to take chances? If you happen to be moving a cart, especially a large one that you cannot see over or around, don’t push it, pull it. Never push a cart; it’s too easy to accidentally push a cart into someone when you can’t see where you’re going.
People can also be struck by, and are frequently severely injured by, objects flying out of machinery, such as pieces of wood or metal. Whatever they are, they’re likely to travel at a high velocity, which increases the likelihood of injuries. Proper machine guarding is one of the best protections against flying objects.
These safety suggestions must be followed by everyone to meet our goal of making the workplace as safe as possible for everyone. We should remember that our actions affect everyone in our department. Let’s work together so everyone can be assured that our workplace is a safe one.
* Know locations of exits
* Recognize evacuation signal and listen for instructions
* Go to the designated meeting area
* Keep exits and hallways clear
* Participate in evaluation drills
In case of an emergency, such as a fire, chemical spill, or natural disaster you will obviously need to know how to leave the building safely and where to meet.
Make a point of learning where each exit is located – not just the exits located near your workstation. Walk safely toward the exits. Try to stay calm and help others near you who may be in a state of panic.
Once you safely evacuate the building, proceed directly toward the designated meeting area. A headcount will be taken to ensure all employees and visitors are safely out of the building. Do not go to your car or leave the designated meeting area until told that it is safe to do so.
It is important to keep the exits and access to exits (including hallways) clear. Some exit doors are not used for normal access to the building and are designated for emergency use only. These doors should never be blocked by anything, including office furniture or boxes.
EMPLOYEE SAFETY RESPONSIBILITY
An effective Accident Prevention Programme should include the defined responsibilities for all levels of management, team leaders and employees. Management, by law, has responsibility for the safety and health of all employees as well as providing a safe workplace. Team leaders or first line supervisors have responsibility for providing a safe work place as well as managing the production issues. Now we need to address employee responsibilities and what those entail.
Employees are expected to be responsible. This starts with getting to work on time, working safely throughout the day, and addressing concerns by fixing them or reporting them to their team leaders.
Suggested Areas of Responsibility
Employees are responsible to:
Listen and learn from any training. Be an active participant in learning job skills or safety issue.
Ask for assistance if the training or instruction is not clear or you don’t feel comfortable in performing the task correctly and safely.
Report unsafe acts and near misses immediately. Especially if the unsafe act is on going. This will help keep the workplace safe for everyone.
Address problems with your team leader as soon as possible. BUT always try to give solutions to every problem. (You may understand more than the team leader about the problem and how to fix it.)
Re-address issues with the team leader on un-resolved topics discussed in the past. (The team leader may have forgotten about those topics.)
Be an active member in the safety of the workplace. Participate in Safety Meetings, and become an active coach in encouraging safe behaviours.
These are just a few areas employees should be responsible for. The list is endless. I’m sure you can come up with other areas to assist in developing a safe and injury-free environment. Bring these areas to your team leader’s attention and be prepared to be part of the solution. This input should be appreciated.
Only You Can Protect Your Hands!
Two of the most intricately designed instruments that we work with are our hands. There are probably no other “tools” that could take the beatings our hands take and still carry out precision jobs.
Like most of life’s wonders, we have come to take our hands for granted—except when we get our finger pinched in a door or between moving parts. Unfortunately, we soon forget this experience and start taking our hands for granted again by taking unnecessary risks.
It might surprise you to know that hand injuries account for roughly a third of all disabling on-the-job accidents each year. About 80 percent of those injuries are caused by pinch points, which have the nasty habit of catching us when we aren’t looking—or, more accurately, aren’t paying attention. Pinch points can be avoided by being aware of their existence and then taking proper precautions.
Many pinch points, such as those formed by belts, pulleys and conveyor chains, are covered with guards—which you already know are not to be removed or bypassed. But there are others that you might not think of until the damage is done. For example, if you’re moving an object, either on a hand truck or by carrying it, make sure—before starting the job—that the doorways and aisles are wide enough to provide proper hand clearance. Then be equally cautious when you set down the load, so as not to pinch fingers underneath.
Some other precautions include:
Keep your hands free of grease and oil. Slippery hands can get you into trouble, so if you get grease on them, clean them up right away.
Take time to remove or bend down protruding nails, splinters, and sharp edges on materials you’re going to be working with.
For safety’s sake, don’t wear rings when you’re working. They can very easily catch on machinery and other objects, resulting in a badly cut finger or worse.
Never attempt to handle broken glass, nails, or other sharp objects with your bare hands. Sweep them up or wear gloves for the job.
Countdown for Vehicle Safety
Astronauts do it! Aircraft pilots do it! Drivers who value their lives do it!
Call it a countdown or check-off or safety checklist or whatever—the principle is basic to all of them. It is the principle of checking out various working parts of complex mechanical devices, such as automobiles and trucks, before the operator trusts his or her life to the machine.
A good time to make a safety check on trucks or cars is while the engine is warming up. Any order of checking will do, just so it makes sense to the operator. Just as important, the check must be done regularly, without fail, and it must be thorough. Here is a suggested basic countdown:
Circle the vehicle and check each wheel for wear, damage, or misalignment. Check tire pressure and tread thickness; uneven wear of tread can mean misalignment. Flat or soft tires can cause kneading and flexing of sidewalls and treads, which builds up heat that weakens tires.
Check for tires that look underinflated or flat because of overloading. This can cause heat buildup in a tire, shorten its life, and even cause tire failure or blowout.
Step up on the front bumper and bounce up and down to test front-end shock absorbers. Shocks are weak if the vehicle’s bouncing does not stop when you stop. Malfunctioning shocks cause sluggish or erratic braking.
Check to see that all devices are working properly—such as lights for driving, turning, backing up, and braking. Also check windshield wipers and signal horns.
Put the vehicle in gear and go forward or backward a few feet, testing the brakes. Safe braking takes hold without noticeable delay and without the sound of metal on metal.
Check all glass and mirrors for clear visibility. Especially look for dirt, grime, cracks, or breaks.
Check any cargo for proper stacking and tie-down. Lashing needs to be strong enough and secured in such a way as to hold the load and keep it from shifting.
This is a partial checklist. Different drivers include other checks, depending upon the kind of vehicle, weight, and bulk of loads to be hauled, as well as on driving conditions and weather. The important thing is to practice the countdownbefore every trip. It acts as a double check on vehicle maintenance and gives the operator a clear idea of future needs for maintenance and repair.
The countdown is no substitute for maintaining a vehicle in top shape—this includes its mechanical parts. But checking before the trip can give the operator an edge on making it a safe one.
Everybody loses from a bad fire, employees, shareholders, consumers and supplier, to name some. Therefore, it is in everybody’s best interest to prevent fires in the first place, and to deal promptly and effectively with any that do occur.
Can this be done? That depends on how well everybody knows the facts about fires and what causes them—and how well they apply this knowledge every day.
The Basic Facts
The three essential ingredients of all ordinary fires are:
Fuel—paper, wood, oil, solvents, gas, and so on.
Heat—at whatever temperature causes the particular fuel to vaporize, according to its nature.
Oxygen—normally at least 15 percent of oxygen in the air is required to sustain a fire. The greater the concentration of oxygen, the brighter the blaze and the more rapid the combustion.
Remove any one of these essentials, and a fire can be extinguished by one of four methods: cooling (temperature and heat control); smothering (oxygen control); isolating (fuel control); or interrupting the chemical chain reaction in certain types of fires.
Obviously, our goal is never to have to extinguish a fire, because we’ve never allowed the essential ingredients to combine. But if we do have to, we must know the proper method to use. That depends on what is burning, which also determines how a given fire is classified. The four classes are:
Class A (general combustibles such as wood, cloth, paper, or rubbish) — usually controlled by cooling, for instance by drenching with water.
Class B (flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, grease, or paint)—usually smothered, using foam, carbon dioxide, or dry chemical.
Class C (electrical equipment)—also usually smothered, using carbon dioxide or dry-chemical extinguishers that are nonconductors of electricity.
Class D fires (combustible metals such as magnesium, lithium, or sodium)—require special extinguishers and techniques.
Making Use of the Facts
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GOOD SAFETY HABITS
In almost everything we do, we find a “trick” to make the process easier and faster. After we develop these tricks, they become work habits in our everyday activities. Developing everyday safety habits can keep you injury free through the year. Here are ten safety habits to live by:
Set Your Own Standards – Don’t be influenced by others around you who are negative. If you fail to wear safety glasses because others don’t, remember the eye injury or blindness you may suffer will be yours alone to live with.
Operate Equipment only if qualified – Ignorance is a chief cause of injury around equipment.
Respect Machinery – If you put something in a machine’s way, it will crush it, pinch it or cut it. Make sure all guards are in place. Never hurry beyond your ability to think and act safely. Remember to de-energize the power first before placing your hands in a point of operation.
Use Your Own Initiative for Safety Protection. You are in the best position to see problems when they arise. Ask for the personal protective equipment or additional guidance you need.
Ask Questions – If you are uncertain, ask. Do not accept answers that contain, “I think, I assume, I guess.” Be sure!
Use Care and Caution when lifting – Most muscle and spinal injuries are from overstraining. Know your limits. Do not attempt to exceed them.
Practice Good Housekeeping – Disorganized work areas are the breeding grounds for accidents, including fires. You may not be the only victim. Don’t be a cause.
Wear appropriate work clothes – Avoid loose clothing and dangling jewelry in the Plant.
Practice Personal Hygiene – Avoid touching eyes, face, and mouth with gloves or hands that are dirty. Wash well and use barrier creams when necessary. Most industrial rashes are the result of poor hygiene practices.
Be a Positive Part of the Safety Team – Willingly accept and follow safety rules. Encourage others to do so. Your attitude can play a major role in the prevention of accidents and injuries.
COMMON SENSE AND ACCIDENT PREVENTION
Generally speaking, we are not born with common sense, we acquire it throughout life. Actually, common sense is really common experience – we learn about life from others’ experiences as well as our own. Awareness of your environment, self-preservation and concern for your fellow workers are all factors in good common sense. Contrary to popular opinion, all workers can prevent themselves from getting hurt. The easy way to avoid pain is to observe how others have taken risks and been injured, rather than learning the hard way–from your own injury. That’s common sense!
The experts say at least 80% of industrial accidents are caused by unsafe acts on the part of employees–and not by unsafe conditions. Although employers are required by law to provide a safe and healthful workplace, it is up to you to be aware of your work environment and follow safe work practices. By avoiding unsafe acts and practising common sense, your work will go smoother, with less chance for accidents.Statistically, most accidents are caused by unsafe acts, including:
Being In A Hurry – Sometimes there is more concern for completing a job quickly instead of safely. Take time to do a good joband a safe job.
Taking Chances – Daring behaviour or blatant disregard for safe work practices can put the whole work team at risk. Follow all company safety rules and watch out for your fellow employees. Horseplay is never appropriate on the job and can lead to disciplinary action.
Being Preoccupied – Daydreaming, drifting off at work, thinking about the weekend and not paying attention to your work can get you seriously hurt or even killed. Focus on the work you are paid to do. If your mind is troubled or distracted, you’re at risk for an accident.
Having A Negative Attitude – Being angry or in a bad mood can lead to severe accidents because anger nearly always rules over caution. Flying off the handle at work is potentially dangerous. Keep your bad moods in check, or more than one person may be hurt. Remember to stay cool and in charge of your emotions.
Failing To Look For Hidden Hazards – At many job-sites, work conditions are constantly changing. Sometimes new, unexpected hazards develop. Always be alert for changes in the environment. Hidden hazards include spilled liquids that could cause slips and falls; out-of-place objects that can be tripped over; unmarked floor openings one could step into; low overhead pipes that could mean a head injury; and other workers who don’t see you enter their hazardous work area.
Remember to stay alert for hazards, so you won’t become one more accident statistic: You can do a quality job without rushing. Maintain a positive attitude and keep your mind on your work. This is just common sense–something smart workers use!
SEVEN COMMON ACCIDENT CAUSES
Consider this statistic: 80 out of every 100 accidents are the fault of the person involved in the incident. Unsafe Acts cause four timesas many accidents & injuries as unsafe conditions!
Accidents occur for many reasons. In most industries people tend to look for “things” to blame when an accident happens, because it’s easier than looking for “root causes,” such as those listed below. Consider the underlying accident causes described. Have you been guilty of any of these attitudes or behaviours? If so, you may have not been injured yet but next time you may not be so lucky.
- Taking Shortcuts: Every day we make decisions we hope will make the job faster and more efficient. But do time-savers ever risk your own safety, or that of other team members? Short cuts that reduce your safety on the job are not shortcuts, but an increased chance for injury.
- Being Over Confident: Confidence is a good thing. Overconfidence is too much of a good thing. “It’ll never happen to me” is an attitude that can lead to improper procedures, tool use, or methods in your work. Any of these can lead to an injury.
- Starting a Task with Incomplete Instructions: To do the job safely and right the first time you need complete information. Have you ever seen an employee sent to do a job, having been given only a part of the job’s instructions? Don’t be shy about asking for explanations about work procedures and safety precautions. It isn’t dumb to ask questions; it’s dumb not to.
- Poor Housekeeping: Housekeeping is an accurate indicator of everyone’s attitude about quality, production and safety. Poor housekeeping creates hazards of all types. A well-maintained area sets a standard for others to follow. Good housekeeping involves both pride and safety.
- Ignoring Safety Procedures: Purposely failing to observe safety procedures can endanger you and your co-workers. You are being paid to follow the company’s safety policies, not to make your own rules. Being “casual” about safety can lead to a casualty!
- Mental Distractions from Work: Having a bad day at home and worrying about it at work is a hazardous combination. Dropping your ‘mental’ guard can pull your focus away from safe work procedures. You can also be distracted when you’re busy working and a friend comes by to talk while you are trying to work. Don’t become a statistic because you took your eyes off the task “just for a minute.”
- Failure to Pre-Plan the Work: There is a lot of talk today about Risk Assessment (RA). RA’s are an effective way to figure out the smartest ways to work safely and effectively. Being hasty in starting a task, or not thinking through the process can put you in harms way. Instead, Plan Your Work and then Work Your Plan!
“It is better to be careful 100 times than to get killed once.” (Mark Twain)
What is Ergonomics? Ergonomics is the science of matching tools and tasks to the work environment. In other words, ergonomics tries to make your job fit you, rather than making you fit your job. The purpose of ergonomics is to reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses that can result from stress on muscles, nerves, and joints.
The most common terms used for ergonomically-related injuries are musculo-skeletal disorders or cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). They are also known as repetitive motion or stress disorders. These are technically called “illnesses” because the problems generally build up over time, rather than being the result of a single event, as in the case of an accident.
Physical problems from cumulative trauma: These usually involve pain and damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves in the back, neck, shoulders, wrists, hands, and elbows. Discomfort can be mild and periodic, or long lasting. Typical ailments include: Tendonitis, “Tennis Elbow,” Trigger Finger, lower back pain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which causes hands and wrists to tingle or become numb, and Reynaud’s Syndrome which causes fingers to become discoloured.
Making the same motion over and over, staying in one position too long, or working in awkward positions can cause disorders. They also result from working with tools that don’t fit the body, using a great deal of physical force, and exposure to long periods of heavy vibration.
How To Avoid Discomfort:
- Use two hands instead of one for a task – to reduce excess demand on a single muscle group.
- Use tools that are right for the job and proportioned for your body.
- Use power tools instead of manual tools when possible.
- Take frequent breaks from repetitive motion tasks.
- Avoid repeating awkward movements or holding yourself in awkward positions.
- Wear protective gloves that reduce pressure or tool vibration on your fingers.
- For computer use – keep the screen 30 to 45 centimeters from your face and just below eye level.
- Position the keyboard so that your wrists are straight and your elbows are close to your body.
- Change positions, stretch often to improve blood circulation, and take breaks regularly.
Report Early Symptoms: Anyone who experiences numbness, tingling or pain in their hands, arms or neck should seek advice. Changes in workstations and equipment can often alleviate these problems before they become chronic, and medical attention should be sought if the problem persists. Following this simple advice can help eliminate physical stress and keep you feeling good all day!
You work in an office. That’s a safe place to work, isn’t it? Not necessarily; accidents can happen to anybody, anytime, if they act in an unsafe manner or are exposed to an unsafe condition and not just to people in the Plant or Distribution Centres!
Here are a few examples of actual accidents that resulted in injury and lost time to office workers—people just like you and me:
- A file clerk suffered a back strain when a fellow employee fell over backward, landing on top of her as she was squatting to get files out of a file drawer.
- An office clerk tripped over an exposed telephone cord in her office and fell, catching herself with both hands as she hit the floor. She broke her arm and sprained her wrist.
- An Administrative Assistant pulled a chair up to a lunch table. She caught her little finger on one of the wires on the bottom of the chair, breaking it.
- An office employee was going through a revolving door when someone else pushed the door faster. The door caught her right heel and leg, causing a blood clot in her leg.
- An employee fractured his ankle while walking under a conveyor, something he had done hundreds of times before.
- An office employee was running through the company parking lot, stepped on a stone, and fell. She suffered a contusion to her lower back.
- A supplier brought in a new desk for an employee. She was not satisfied with the positioning of the desk so she moved it and ruptured a disc in her back.
- A receptionist yawned while at work, and her jaw locked.
- An employee left a cup of coffee on his desk. When he returned to finish it, he didn’t notice a bee inside the cup. The bee stung the inside of his upper lip.
- A receptionist sat down on a couch that needed repair. She fell through the seat cushion onto the floor, injuring her back.
- A secretary stood up to move from her desk to another, tripped over a desk drawer that had been left open, and sprained her lower back.
Let’s remember that any of these accidents could have happened to you or to me. So, if you see someone acting in an unsafe manner, tell him or her about it. If you see an unsafe condition, report it. Safety is everybody’s business.
Lockout and tagout are critical when handling hazardous energy whether at home or at work.
The cartoon on the following slide appeared in the Sunday Gleaner of March 12, 2006. Although somewhat funny, the message is very serious – ALWAYS LOCKOUT AND TAGOUT any source of hazardous energy before doing any work on any system at work or at home.
CLEAN IT UP AND KEEP IT CLEAN!
Most accidents result from multiple causes, and one cause involved in many instances of mishap and injury is that the area was messy, slippery, or piled with materials which prevented normal operations. Cleanliness – good housekeeping is one of the basic elements of accident prevention.
Sure, housekeeping can seem to be an endless job with no reward, but if too much debris, dirt, or disorder is allowed to build up, unexpected hazards accumulate with them.
That occasional wet floor or oily spot on the floor can cause someone to slip and fall and result in a pulled back or bruised knee. Cluttered aisles, congested work areas, and other results of poor housekeeping are all open invitations to trouble. For example:
- An employee who stepped on a piece of pipe left lying on the floor lost 10 workdays due to a severely sprained ankle.
- Another employee stepped from a ladder onto a spill which no one had cleaned up. Result? A slip followed by 9 days out of work for with a wrenched back.
- Some boards were left on a walkway at the finish of a project. Trying to step over them, a worker wound up with a twisted knee and was on light-duty work for a week.
Many of you can probably recall similar incidents here or at a previous workplace, where accidents were at least partly caused by something that wasn’t swept up or wiped up or put away when it should have been.
Whereas disorder is unpleasant and hazardous, an orderly, neat work area will help prevent accidents and even enable you to be more productive in your work. If you want order to prevail, you must contribute to keeping the environment tidy by making sure that things are placed where they should be each and every time you’re through using them. A once-in-a-while grand cleanup will not do, although you may need to undertake a first big housecleaning, in order to get started. After that, a constant effort must be made to keep your area clean or conditions will soon slide back to the mess you had before. Make order and cleanliness a regular habit, and after only a week or two the cleanup won’t seem to be an effort.
Who is responsible for keeping things clean and orderly? You and everyone else. And everyone who wants to keep the workplace safe and pleasant to work in will shoulder that responsibility readily.
Serious Accidents don’t just happen…
H.W. Heinrich changed the world of safety fundamentals forever with his pioneering work in the 1930’s. One of his concepts that continues to be valid is his accident triangle (pyramid) – for every 300 unsafe acts there are 29 minor injuries and one major injury or fatality.
It’s a concept that we all should be familiar with. So many near misses lead to a certain number of first aid injuries and onward through the logic to lost time injuries and ending in the unavoidable fatality. The illustration below shows the progression graphically:
Companies and individuals that do well in safety demonstrate that individual behaviors is the key factor in safety after workplace conditions, training and safety standards are addressed. So how can we prevent the Heinrich’s triangle prediction from coming true at Red Stripe?
We must build a new safety triangle (pyramid) on the solid foundation of safe behaviours and actions. We can eliminate improper activities (unsafe behaviours) that lead to 98 percent of the injuries in Heinrich’s model. By eliminating dangerous behaviors there are never enough dangerous actions to get us to a more serious level of injuries in Heinrich’s pyramid.
Human beings are by nature risk-takers. Unfortunately, when it comes to safety, many live to regret it (but some don’t!). What then is the message?
- Practice safe behaviours
- Recognize or “big up” these behaviours
- Coach – observe and provide feedback on behaviours
In Safety, you are responsible not only for yourself but for others as well. Don’t pass up an unsafe act without calling attention to it. Most importantly, give positive feedback on safe behaviours. That is a sure way of reinforcing them and ensuring that they are repeated.
Most of us know that accidents are caused by only two things – unsafe acts or practices, and unsafe conditions. Some of us even know that 9 out of 10 accidents are the result of unsafe acts, or things we do when we know better. This is kind of strange if you think about it. We have more to fear from our own actions than from any other job hazards around us. Why do we deliberately expose ourselves to injury every day?
It Won’t Happen To Me
Basically, most of us are just thinking about getting the job done and we tend to rationalise the risk of getting injured. We think to ourselves that we have done this job many, many times this way and nothing bad has happened. Therefore, nothing bad will happen to us today. On an intellectual level, we realise there is a potential danger but decide that the risk of being injured is low. Because we have not been injured so far, we actually think of ourselves as being very safety conscious. We know the right way to do it, we realise that it is hazardous to do it this way, but what we are really thinking to ourselves is “it won’t happen to me.”
We Take Short Cuts
Some of us are fairly meticulous about following safe work practices, but because a job “will only take a minute” we use an unsafe method or tool. For example, not putting on our safety glasses because the job will only take a minute, or not locking out a machine because an adjustment will only take a second.
Usually we think about it just before we do something a little unsafe, or maybe quite a bit unsafe. We know better, we know the safe way to do it, but we take that little chance. In effect we are saying, “I know that this could result in an injury, but “it can’t happen to me.” Maybe it’s human nature to think that accidents always happen to someone else, but they can happen to you too. What makes you different?
Why take a chance in the first place? Only you can decide to take the time to do your job safely and correctly the first time.
Don’t be a hazard!
GENERAL SAFETY – CARELESSNESS
Have you ever done anything stupid, really stupid, something that you know puts you at increased risk of injury? When you realise how stupid you were, whether you got hurt or not, do you ask yourself, “Why did I ever do that?” For your own future preservation, this should be a very important question for you to answer yourself. Consider the fact that approximately 20% of injuries are due to unsafe conditions and 80% are caused by unsafe acts! If you realise that most unsafe conditions are brought about by human failure, then virtually all accidents are brought about by unsafe acts. Why did you do something in an unsafe manner? To answer this question, you will need to put personal defences aside and know that blame may lie within yourself. Also realise that there may be more than one reason for your actions and others may be involved.
If you knew the proper, safe way to the do the job, then you cannot claim ignorance. What is left, whether you like it or not, is carelessness. So what can cause you to temporarily disregard your own safety?
External Pressure — “Let’s get this job done!” Disregarding safe practices is not going to save enough time to make a significant difference. However, any accident or injury is guaranteed to have an effect. As a matter of fact, when the pressure to get the job done is applied, it is worthwhile to pay more attention to safety because we know, from experience that such situations frequently lead to more accidents.
Bad Habits — You fail to follow the established procedure and you don’t get hurt (or you were not caught) this time. Psychologically, this is a reward and so you do it again and again and again. But it is also Russian roulette. How many times can you pull the trigger before a round is in the chamber? You know, sooner or later, something is going to happen. There is only one way to stop it – stop pulling the trigger. Do yourself a favour and follow the established procedures.
Internal Pressure — There is just so much to do and not enough time!” Are you self-motivated and self-directed? Your single-minded determination to get the job done may cause you to lose sight of the dangers around you. Think of it this way, you will not finish the job if you get hurt. You may finish the job if you don’t get hurt. Therefore, first, prevent injury. Second, work to complete the job. Make sense? Of course!
Attitude — “This safety stuff doesn’t apply to me!” So what makes you so special? Humans are humans. Rich or poor. Black or white. Men or women. Strong or weak. There is nothing in your status that will protect you from injury except following the safe procedure.
Remember that safety is no more than doing the job the right way, every day.
A Close Look at Close Calls
We’ve all become familiar—perhaps too familiar—with the violent episodes on the TV or movie screen, complete with buckets of gore and dreadful screams of pain. They may raise our pulse rate momentarily, but by the time the next program or feature begins, we’ve forgotten all about it. After all, it wasn’t “real.”
By contrast, anyone unfortunate to have experienced or witnessed a serious accident, on the road or at their workplace, won’t forget the real blood, screams, and tears for a long time, if ever.
There is a serious real-life danger, though, in accidents that don’t result in damage to persons or property, because we may tend to think of them like the movie massacre: scary for a few minutes there, but no real harm done.
This is a dangerous attitude because if we don’t notice and correct whatever condition or behavior caused that close call, it’s likely to be a closer call the next time, then closer yet, and so on. Eventually, we get the real thing with all the pain and suffering that goes with it—for the victim and for co-workers and family.
A close call or “near miss” accident, therefore, should be regarded as a red warning flag or a high fever—a sign that something is very wrong and requires attention. The list of possible near misses in a workplace may be virtually endless, but here are just a few examples:
A heavy object falls off a ledge or shelf and thuds to the floor a foot or so away from workers. (The next falling object may find a human target.)
A worker slips on a slick surface and almost—but not quite—falls. (The next person along may fall and end up in the hospital.)
A worker jumps back just in time to avoid being hit by an opening door. (That door will hit somebody one of these days.)