In spite of continuing programs regarding work safety practices, deaths that occur in the workplace remains high. In the United States alone, an average of 15 work-related deaths happen every day. Very high considering that the US is one of the most safety focused country in the world especially when it comes to practices in the work place. In other parts of the world especially in the developing countries, the statistics are much higher.
The top five issues are:
Lack of Training – Despite the rigorous guidelines and safety measures adopted by many companies safety policies are not adequately communicated to the employees. If it does, there are too many variables to preventing disasters that are ignored. Not spotting a potential accident from happening, failure to identify potential hazards, ignoring safety rules, ignorance and sometimes, plain indifference are among the largest contributors. Pressures and deadlines further complicate this where supposedly minor risks are taken.
Poor Communication – Training is about informing people on methods at doing a task effectively, efficiently, safely. There are many occasions though that those due to costs, middle management, and supervisors are the personnel that are trained to train the rank and file. There is nothing wrong with the approach. It is, in fact, the most popular. The link is weakened though when the supervisor is not an effective communicator. Complicating this is the trend today to hire temporary workers even when there is a language barrier. As an example, foreign workers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal workplace accident that those who are native to the area.
Insufficient Supervision ? A number of accidents are caused by assigning an employee to perform a task for which the employee is not trained to do or has a poor understanding of the risks involved in doing the job.
Poor Safety Policies ? While safety policies are in place, this do not address poor and insufficient staffing and scheduling issues aside from policies that are impractical and unworkable. Add to this is the practice of hiring or allowing the elderly to work in areas that are hazardous even to younger men.
Poor Worksite Organization ? Many times, the accidents happening in the workplace are not the fault of a single person but a combination of factors. Poor organization, unsafe work practices, unsafe work environment, the desire to reach the quota, target or to meet the schedule. People are assigned around, sometimes they are found in places where they do not belong, equipment getting in the way including a not well thought off people traffic.
There are grey areas in workplace safety. The fault could sometimes be due to managerial practices, sometimes it is the fault of the worker and sometimes both. No matter, it is always the responsibility of the top management to ensure that workplace safety procedures are ensured, implemented, and understood. It is little comfort that over the year’s fatalities and work related accidents have been declining because accidents could be prevented if workplace safety is a little more aggressively implemented.