The theory in the workplace about accidents is evolving. The prevailing notion is that all workplace accidents are avoidable. This modern approach puts an increased onus on several areas. Training, preventive maintenance, ergonomics, and attitudes on safety all need to improve to reach this goal.
Inadequacy of Training
Underneath the umbrella of training lies several deficiencies regarding the attitudes and implementation of instruction for management and workers. The first is that necessary education may not be available. Tight budgets and production schedules are the mantra for industrial sites. When there is a shortage of time or money, training is one of the first areas where cuts occur. The long term is sacrificed so the fires can be put out. Unfortunately these temporary offsets often become permanent.
Secondary language employees present a hurdle in the assimilation of educational materials. Improvements in technology and transportation has made the world a smaller place. This can be seen in the diversity of any industrial workforce. An ability to speak the native language is not the same as the level of comprehension necessary for involved processes. Too often language comprehension is overlooked and a significant percentage of the workplace can fall under the cracks in the area of training.
The necessary attention for the continued safe operation of machinery falls under the prevue of preventive maintenance. This program calls for the continued inspection of any part of the automation that can suffer catastrophic failure due to continual cycling. Worn parts are replaced, lubrication is applied, and a myriad of other actions are performed for the safety of the personnel. The life cycle of any piece of machinery is lengthened due to this program. Attitudes on preventive maintenance vary due to the upfront costs it requires weighed against the potential for failure.
Repetitive motion is the foundation for automation and the assembly line. The same action done by a worker puts that employee at risk from repetitive motion injuries. Ergonomics allows for the workstation or operation to be improved so that stress can be alleviated from these tasks. The costs arising from ergonomic studies and their implementation are more than offset by increased attendance and productivity by highly trained workers.
Personal protection equipment is one of the first safety measures to go by the wayside when it comes to attitude. Factories are often an unpleasant place to work due to extreme environmental conditions. Safety glasses, hard hats, hearing protection, and other equipment become uncomfortable when working in unpleasant atmospheres. Workers starting performing tasks without these. Management is equally lax in allowing exceptions to be made. Safety must be viewed as an all or nothing proposition with no exceptions being granted or excused.
These four points provide the foundation with industrial accident prevention. Constant attention and implementation of the aforementioned ideals will allow any workplace to achieve their goal. Management and workers can go forward into the modern world where all industrial accidents are preventable.
Jason Kane is an advocate for workplace safety in all industries. He is a blogger for LeraBlog and Federeal Steel Supply, Inc.