Accidents do not just happen: Top 6 causes of accidents on-site and the role of the HSE personnel

Top 6 causes of accidents on-site and the role of the HSE Personnel

With my level of experience in the Health and safety profession, I have come to discover that accidents do not just happen, but accidents are caused.

There was a scenario where I almost ignored investigating an accident because in my initial assessment. I felt it was caused by a natural phenomenon. Being a junior Health and safety Officer then, my superior insisted that I investigate the accident. At the end of the day I was surprised at the result of the investigation.

I learnt a lesson; understanding that looking at any incident from the surface may be misleading, and that it is needful to give a closer look at every incident.

This further buttress the fact that accident do not just happen, but caused either directly or indirectly.

At this point, let us see some major causes of accidents on-site:

  1. Weak Health and safety policy: When the Health and safety policy is weak, it will affect the overall implementation of the Health and Safety plan leading to poor attainment of the health and safety objectives. Health and safety policy should be well structured, understandable, firm and appropriately communicated to every employee.
  2. Overconfidence: Overconfidence is a thief of concentration. It makes workers complacent because of familiarity to the task caused by repetition. Confidence is necessary for successful job completion, but overconfidence could result in an accident. I often use the example of a driver. Someone learning how to drive always give 100% concentration while driving, but as he gets use to the vehicle he begins to entertain distractions while driving. These distractions often will result in road traffic accident.
  3. Lack of training: Personnel training is an invaluable tool when productivity it expected. Training cannot be substituted by experience. During training, information is passed regarding what is expected from the employee, attitudinal skills, job specific training, etc. This information collectively will shape the employee perception to the job, health and safety issues and the organization in general.

When training is planned, a good training facilitator should be chosen to achieve the best from the training. The facilitator should take into consideration of different mental capabilities. They should adopt a training technique involving the three learning structures (Hearing, Sight, Touch).

4.  Failure to conduct Job Safety Analysis (JSA): A job safety analysis (JSA) is a procedure which is used to integrate accepted safety and health principles into a particular job task or operation. The JSA process is multi-layered and broken into three parts:

1 – The Job Tasks

2 – Potential Hazard Exposures

3 – Recommended Safe Procedures

Conducting JSA for every task is the starting point for achieving an accident free task.

It should be noted that for every new task, JSA should be prepared for the task. This will help save time, energy, resources, and also enhance productivity.

Employers are often cited by OSHA for failing to conduct JSAs, because there are OSHA requirement under the (PPE) Personal Protective Equipment Standards. It is important to remember however, that PPE should be the last form of employee protection. Exposure to risk should be controlled by using one or more of the risk control measures like, Engineering controls, Administrative controls, Substitution, PPE, etc. The risk involves in the task and necessary control measures required for the risk can only be determined after conduction the JSA.

JSA work studies must be documented and signed by all stakeholders in the process, which can include the President of the company, Management, HR, Safety as well as the Employee. The goal being to assure that everyone is on the same page and trained on the study results.

5.  Failure to conduct frequent and regular inspections

Inspections and job task observations should be carried out on regular basis by a competent person to ensure employees are working safety and also complying with statutory regulations. The findings from the inspections and observations should be documented. Deficiencies should be noted which may include pictures.

Observations, both good and bad can be highly valuable. These findings can be discussed in management meetings, safety committee meetings to look for ways to improve on the system. For good practices spotted, the employees involved should be encouraged with an appreciation; be it verbal or material.

6.  Health and Safety personnel being seen as Police:

Though some employees can be stubborn, Health and Safety personnel should be very smart in disposing their duties in other not to be seen as POLICE. Health and Safety personnel should create trust among employees. Employees should trust us to do what will only benefit them. When employees lose trust in the Health and Safety personnel, correction will be difficult resulting in more unsafe acts in your absence.

To prevent being seen as police, Health and safety personnel should not be seen when disciplinary actions are being taken, they should not take disciplinary actions themselves; that is the job of the management. Instead of falling back to disciplinary measures to foster Health and safety compliance, it is preferable that the employees are made understand the reasons for them to work safe by organizing orientations and re-orientation exercises. When the employees understand the essence of working safe, they will do the right thing even in your absence.

From our discussion, you will agree with me that accident do not just happen, but caused. The top 6 causes of accidents points to the directions we should be looking at while trying to minimize the rate of accidents on-site

If the points highlighted here and recommendations made are implemented, our site will be a safe heaven for all employees; because the major causes of accidents would have been tackled.

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