Why It’s Impossible to Prevent Every Workplace Accident

Accident. That is a hard word to swallow. Why? Because we know that accident is something we could avoid. No matter how severe the aftermath of an accident may be, we are often left with the gnawing guilt that “X would not have happened if Y were done.”

Sometimes accidents leave permanent scars, reminding us each day of our negligence (or recklessness). For those of you who have been a victim or perpetrator of a costly accident, you probably could relate to the pain and agony accidents could bring. Oftentimes, the lot of guilt falls heaviest on those in the workplace, especially the ones in the managerial position. So how do employees, managers, and supervisors cope with workplace accidents? Here are a few tips to help you to minimize the probability of accidents with a healthy outlook:

Understand the Nature of Accidents

Dictionary.com defines accident as “an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap.” In other words, accidents are unplanned events that sometimes come with one or more unpleasant consequences. One thing for people at the workplace to realize is that accidents are never intentional. They are not done with the premeditation to do harm. Instead, accidents are simply the dreaded surprises that life throws our way.

Accept Human Limitation

To err is human. People make mistakes because they are not only imperfect, but are also limited by their experience and fragility. Feelings like fatigue, anger, and anxiety can altogether cloud our judgment and make us more prone to overlook minor (even major) details. As one study has found, fatigue can have similar effects to alcohol consumption. This is why WorkSafeBC recommends employers to create shift schedule that allows for continuous sleep, while encouraging employees to get at least 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep per night.

Accept the Challenge with Faith

While it’s impossible to avoid every single accident at your workplace, there are steps you can take to keep the rate of accidents at bay. As OSHA shares, building a safe workplace culture requires everyone’s cooperation. Employees should be required and motivated “to go beyond ‘the call of duty’ to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors, and intervene to correct them.” According to Arbill, managers also need to demonstrate their commitment to a safe culture by putting safety before everything else. Encourage your employees to stick to the instructions, clarify any shortcoming in the instructions, and avoid shortcuts in the name of expediency.            

Be Prepared for the Surprises

Because accidents are going to happen no matter how careful you are, it’s good to also train your employees to respond to accidents properly and promptly. As SmallBusiness.Chron states, every workplace should “develop a detailed action plan on how to handle injured employees.” Train your workers to know the emergency numbers, inform them the nearest medical facility, and make first aid kits accessible at all workstations. Keep your team up to speed with safety training by equipping them with the skills and tools to respond to accidents and emergency. After all, “Safety training is not an option, it is a priority.” Start training your employees now to be prepared for tomorrow.

Tom Reddon
<p> Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for the <a href="http://www.nfe-lifts.com/" target="_blank" title="National Forklift Exchange">National Forklift Exchange</a>. He also sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/TomReddon" target="_blank" title="Tom Reddon Twitter">@TomReddon</a>.</p>


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