If the causes of accidents were known to us, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that we could stop accidents from occurring? According to OSHA’s general duty clause, employers must: “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
What are recognized hazards? There are the obvious ones, falls, trips, slips, pinch points, eye and face injuries, etc. Correction or mitigation of these hazards many times involves personal protective equipment. Other hazards such as heat stress can sometimes be controlled administratively such as by scheduling the work for cooler time periods. Engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation can be used to control hazards such as inhalation of toxic fumes.
Under the general duty clause, employees have the duty to: “comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.” Many studies claim that nine out of ten accidents are caused by unsafe acts. So why don’t we just stop acting unsafely? Humans have free will, the freedom to make a choice based on a wide range of factors, so why do we often make a decision to work unsafely? A finding from the book, Industrial Accident Prevention, A Scientific Approach by Herbert William Heinrich became known as “Heinrich’s Law” and states that in a workplace, for every accident that causes a major injury, there are 29 accidents that cause minor injuries and 300 accidents that cause no injuries.
Some of the precursors for incidents include:
- Time pressure
- Lack of training
Just as unsafe conditions are hazards, so, too, are unsafe acts. Life is priceless. Work safely.
Click on the link to find out more about unsafe conditions and acts.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is solely the opinion of the author and shall not be construed to be the opinion or views of OSHAcampus or 360training, including any employer of author, if any.