7 Ways To Identify Your NEXT Accident
April 11, 2011 by admin
By: Rob Bartlett – Senior Safety Consultant
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Companies and other organizations need to continually look at their workplaces to identify where the next accident might occur. Only by continually being on the lookout for hazards can we see a steady decline in injuries and, as I discussed in my last post, the many costs associated with them.
The following are some ways to prevent your next accident:
1) Use the Past to Prevent the Future
Investigate all accidents to identify all root causes, including the physical, human, and systems factors that contributed to the incident. Then, prevent future accidents by looking around your operations to determine where similar problems exist – and remove those potential causes.
2) Ask the People Who Know Best
Operators, mechanics, and other employees know the things that are broken that haven’t been fixed, equipment that no longer works as it is supposed to, procedures that are outdated, etc. Ask these people to help identify where the next accident might occur. Then, most importantly, fix the problems.
3) Use the Statistics
You should be tracking OSHA Recordable Injuries, as well as First Aid and Near-Miss incidents. Routinely review this data to look for trends that might point to where the next accident might occur. If, for example, your company is experiencing a high number of First-Aid incidents related to hand injuries, this might point to a future medical treatment related to hands – and maybe retraining employees on the proper use of tools or redesigning certain work tasks would help to prevent the next accident.
4) Two Heads (Or Ten) Are Better Than One
Nothing beats a cross-functional team for brainstorming where the next accident might occur – and the benefit is that the team can also help to solve the problems. Be sure to include people from different departments – a new set of eyes can identify hazards that everyone else has overlooked for years. Gather the team, choose an area, take a tour to identify where the next accident might occur, and brainstorm possible ways to prevent it.
5) Learn From the Mistakes Of Others
In the Age of the Internet, it is relatively easy to learn about accidents that have occurred at facilities similar to yours. Trade groups and local regulators are also good sources of such information. Don’t forget to consider accidents from tasks common to various industries – e.g. powered industrial trucks or lifting heavy objects. By learning from the mistakes of others and changing your operations based on the root causes of their incidents, you can prevent the next accident.
6) Management By Walking Around
Get out of the office and walk around your operations, taking time to engage your employees. Often, safety concerns will not be brought up in a large meeting (like a monthly safety meeting) but will be communicated in a one-on-one conversation – especially if there is a level of trust in the relationship. Also, rather than walking around simply to get from one place to another, specifically look for where the next accident may occur. Then, take action to correct the problem – even if you just add the concern to a list of safety concerns to be addressed at a later time.
7) Ask an Expert
Sometimes there are not enough resources in-house to be able to ensure that the necessary expertise is available to identify hazards. With a quick audit of your facility, a safety consultant can develop a list of hazards that could cause the next accident and should provide ready-to-implement solutions for each hazard. Choose your consultant carefully, however. A long list of problems without any solutions – or problems that require significant resources to address – will end up on a shelf without ever being implemented. To prevent your next accident, a consultant should help to solve existing problems.
Of course, you cannot stop with identifying where the NEXT safety incident will occur. The key is to FIX the problems before someone gets hurt. While this post focused on ways to identify your next accident and the ways to prevent it, my next post will suggest various ways to manage the ever-growing list of actions needed to address these safety concerns.
Rob Bartlett is a Senior Safety Consultant for Career Management Associates an HR consulting firm that specializes in Professional and Executive Search, HR Consulting and Services, Outplacement and Career Transition, Executive Coaching, and Contract Employment. Please contact him at email@example.com or 207.780.1125. You can also follow him as @SaferWorkplace on Twitter.