Industrial accident is any accident that occurs in the course of work resulting to injury. Industrial accident is often avoidable but require awareness of proper safety protocols by both the employee and management.
When industrial accident occur, it can have significant, and often long-term, consequence. The tragic reality is that most of these incidents are avoidable and preventable.
Major causes of industrial accident
Because the types of industrial accidents vary so widely, it is hard to say exactly what causes them. It is important to note, however, that 80 out of every 100 accidents that happen in the workplace are ultimately caused by improper precautionary measures. Here are some causes below:
Environmental Causes of Accidents
Accidents which occur from environmental causes refer to those workplace accidents that happen because of the working environment. The environmental factors can be both natural and man-made such as workplace design. Common environmental causes of accidents include:
- Poor lighting – Low visibility is a common cause of slips, trips, and falls.
- Ambient temperature – If a workplace is too hot, overheating can occur. If the workplace is too cold, frostbite or hypothermia can occur.
- Air pollution – Breathing issues can develop if a workplace has poor ventilation and/or air pollution.
- Sound pollution – The sound in a workplace can cause injury to a worker’s hearing.
Read Also: 4 Primary effects of road accidents
Mechanical Causes of Industrial Accidents
Mechanical causes of industrial accidents are factors that refer to machine or equipment failure or breakdown. Generally, with proper maintenance and safety processes in place, these types of accidents are preventable. Common mechanical causes of accidents include:
- Broken or damaged machine – Parts can be easily broken or damaged if made of poor-quality metal.
- Power failure – Total or partial power failure can lead to serious injury.
- Fire or explosion – Cooling failure or a small spark can lead to a mechanical fire or explosion.
- Fair wear and tear – The older machine, the more wear and tear on the parts which can lead to a higher risk of mechanical accident.
Human factors that cause industrial accident
Accidents caused by human factors refers to incidents in which the accident is directly attributed to the worker involved in the accident. Common human factors that cause industrial accidents include:
- Poor housekeeping – An unkempt work space can lead to slips, trips, and falls.
- Fatigue – When a body is tired, injury is more likely to occur.
- Overexertion – Overexertion injuries are the most common type of workplace injury.
- Stress – Workers who are stressed are often more distracted and of greater risk of injury.
- Dehydration – It is important to consume enough water to ensure you body functions properly.
- Improper Lifting – Lower back strains and shoulder injuries are common among workers who use improper lifting techniques.
Taking shortcuts: Everyone wants to work faster. Unfortunately, when workers take shortcuts on the job – especially when lethal chemicals or machinery is involved – they are putting themselves and fellow employees at risk of an accident.
Poor management of space: According to Safety Partners LTD, “A poorly kept up [work] area leads to hazards and threats everywhere. Not only does good housekeeping lead to heightened safety, it also sets a good standard for everyone else in the workplace to follow.”
Neglecting safety procedures: Agencies like OSHA and NIOSH have specific safety guidelines that employers must follow. Failing to comply with OSHA or NIOSH standards will not only result in serious penalties, but can also result in serious injury or death.
Excessive overtime is associated with a 61% higher injury rate. Part of this is attributable to the inherently hazardous nature of the work, but when people are on the job for longer periods, fatigue can be dangerous – and even deadly.
About 14 Americans are killed each day in work-related accidents. There are also 30,000 non-fatal injuries each year in the industrial sector. These include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken or crushed bones
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic eye injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Degloving (sections of skin are torn from the tissue beneath. This severs the blood supply.)
Types of industrial accident
Imagine walking into your plant one Monday morning to find the light bulb over your work area had blown over the weekend. No big deal, you think. You decide to report it at the end of the shift and go about setting up your drilling press for the work day.
After a few hours, you notice that your shoulders are a little sore but chalk it up to the snow you had to shovel over the weekend. You are not even aware of the awkward humped posture you’ve put yourself in to get a little closer to the press in order to best see the drill area that is likely causing you the discomfort.
After a few more hours, you decide you need to stretch out your back and take a brief break to rub your shoulders and now aching lower back. After a few minutes, you feel a bit of relief and head back to your press. However, because of the dark work area, you don’t realize that you haven’t properly secured the metal to the press when getting back to your station, and next thing you know, the metal jumps up slicing your hand and arm, requiring stitches.
Accidents like the one described above are far too common. Often employees do not associate a small issue, such as poor lighting, with injuries. However, had the employee above taken the time to request a bulb change at the start of shift, the pain in his shoulders and back could have been avoided and he would have been able to clearly see the metal was not properly secure had the space been brighter.
Industrial accidents are often avoidable but require awareness of proper safety protocols by both the employee and management.
Common types of industrial accidents
Some of the most common types industrial accidents include:
- Equipment rollovers
- Vehicle and forklift overturns
- Being struck by heavy equipment, vehicles, etc.
- Defective power tools and equipment
- Being caught in machinery or equipment
- Being crushed or struck in collapsing structure
- Toxic chemical exposure (e.g., carbon monoxide, chlorine, sulfuric acid, methylene chloride, ammonia, hydrochloric acid)
Tips for the Prevention of Industrial Accidents
When it comes to industrial accidents, incidents are almost always preventable when proper safety measures and employee training are in place. Tips for avoiding industrial accidents include:
- Obey Safety Requirements
One of the main causes of injuries and accidents on the job is failure to comply with safety regulations. If you are an employer, then be sure to provide proper safety training for your employees and post warnings and instructions throughout the workspace to ensure that your employees know what they should and shouldn’t be doing. If you are an employee, make sure you know what the rules are and that you follow them – because even when a safety precaution seems ridiculous, it’s in place because it has prevented injury (or death) in the past.
Another way to help prevent accidents on the job is to be in constant communication with other workers in your area. If you are working with heavy machinery, make sure everyone knows what you’re planning to do. If you need to walk through a hard hat zone, make sure you talk to someone and know what work is being done in the area so that you are on the alert.
- Provide/Get Proper Training
As an employer, make sure your workers know what they are doing. Provide proper training to anyone who is going to use heavy machinery, chemicals, or dangerous products of any kind. As an employee, make sure you know how to properly use a machine, a chemical, or any other dangerous product – never assume you can figure it out yourself.
- Keep Machinery & Equipment in Working Order
When was the last time your machine got a tune-up? Does it have any parts that need replacing? Is there damage that you don’t know about? Always make sure you are using a machine that has been recently inspected and has received proper maintenance and repairs before you take it out on the job.
- Don’t Take Shortcuts
Faster isn’t always better, especially when safety can be jeopardized. Do your work the right way and always make sure to keep safety your number one priority, even if it takes a little longer. You could save a life – possibly even yours.
Other tips include:
- Developing an employee safety plan with feedback from all level employees
- Requiring monthly employee training and promote safety awareness with an internal safety committee
- Focusing on skill development and education of all employees
- Ensuring supervisors are monitoring and reporting on the progress of all safety measures
- Providing avenue for employees to share safety concerns and ideas for improving safety
- Establishing a planned maintenance schedule for all machines – daily, weekly, monthly based on manufacturer suggestion
- Quickly repairing and addressing all defective or broken machine parts
- Testing all equipment before use
- Creating a regular inspection schedule and put mechanisms in place to ensure it is adhered to