In many regards, preventing industrial accidents requires the same type of thinking that is applied when thinking about preventing tragedies at home or in the workplace. When something terrible happens, we immediately begin to look for solutions. The problem is that the solutions that we seek rarely match the problem that motivated us to find them in the first place. And this leads to a plethora of solutions that either do not solve the problem, or worse yet, actually make the problem worse.
Examples Of Preventing Accidents
An often quoted example of preventative action is the implementation of personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, if someone is struck by a pneumatic or hydraulic machine at work, the immediate reaction is to apply safety harnesses. If those harnesses are not used properly, or if the workers do not wear them, the result can be catastrophic. Thus, preventing industrial accidents by using PPE becomes increasingly problematic.
The solution to this dilemma is simple: make the list of suitable replacements and then perform an evaluation to see if each piece of equipment found on the list can actually be replaced. That evaluation may involve looking up similar equipment on the PPE wish list and testing it against the worker’s needs. Each piece of equipment should be tested individually, to check that it is suitable for the job it is being recommended for. Once all the required or suitable replacements are found, the workers should be trained to use them. If they are not trained properly, the result will again be disastrous. Thus, preventing industrial accidents requires applying these four steps: identify the hazards, develop preventive measures, make available suitable replacements, train the workers.
Steps To Be Taken To Prevent Accidents
The fourth step in the process of preventing accidents and incidents is the development of a work zone that complies with safety standards. This means that the work area must be marked, it cannot be left open in any manner, and all moving parts must be secured. Where this does not appear feasible, other solutions are adopted. For instance, PPE can be strapped to employees, worn like a uniform, or made available for use in areas where redirection is impossible. Where redirection is possible, PPE can be provided with built-in devices that generate a signal to warn of hazards.
The second step in preventing accidents and incidents in the workplace is developing skills matrices that teach employees to perform their jobs safely. Again, this includes a list of appropriate workwear, protective clothing, and other items. The workers must be trained how to identify dangerous situations in the workplace, how to behave when those situations arise, and how to use personal protective equipment to protect themselves. Such information can be taught in the workplace neatness and skills matrices, which should also be regularly reviewed. If management and supervisors do not review these periodically, then they are not providing consistent and reliable supervision and guidance.
Final Steps And Conclusion
Finally, another very important and critical step to preventing accidents and incidents in the workplace is developing a list of approved operators for each occupational category. A list appears most obvious in the case of radioactivity; operators who have been trained to handle this must be present on the premises. Similarly, the list appears in many other fields. It is up to managers and supervisors to ask their workers for a list of approved operators and to establish their responsibility to operators listed on the list. This approach can be strengthened by providing for regular reviews of the list and by requiring operators to wear safety vests while working.