Techniques of accident prevention P2

Discussion in 'Investigation and Recording of Incidents' started by Neil Enslin, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. Neil Enslin

    Neil Enslin Moderator

    7. Make sure health and safety management is accepted by everyone, and that it applies to all aspects of the organisation’s activities

    A single contracts manager, joinery manager, or other member of senior management who believes that the company safety management system does not apply to situations where time is short can destroy the safety climate overnight. If someone is injured as a result, the penalty can be severe for that person, and possibly for the company as well.
    Examples: Failure of a senior manager to wear safety footwear and safety helmet on a site visit gives the impression to the workforce that the rules do not apply to senior management. Failure to carry out risk assessments because of pressure of work could lead to criminal prosecution of an individual.

    Benefits of accident prevention

    There are generally said to be five main reasons why accident prevention in construction is worthwhile.

    The cost in human suffering, physical pain and hardship resulting from death and disability is impossible to quantify. We know that there are hundreds of lives lost each year in construction and related industries, with tens of thousands of serious injuries and countless numbers of more minor injuries. We can only guess at the disruption to lives of workers and their families which these causes, but we know that construction safety is not an impossible dream; it is an achievable goal.
    Moral reasons stem from a developing public awareness that something needs to be done to raise the quality of life at work. Attention is focusing on the ability of employers and project managers in the industry to handle a wide variety of issues, previously seen only as marginally relevant to the business. Environmental affairs, pollution, design safety, maintainability and other matters are now commonly discussed. There is a growing belief that it is morally unacceptable to put the safety and health of others (inside or outside the construction site) at risk, for profit or any other reason.

    Worker morale is strengthened by active participation in accident prevention programmes and is weakened by accidents. Adverse publicity affects the fortunes of the organisation both internally in this way and externally, as public confidence may weaken local community ties, market position, market share, shareholder value and reputation generally.

    Legal reasons are contained in statute law, which details steps to be taken and objectives to be met, and which carries the threat of prosecution or other enforcement action as a consequence of failure to comply. Civil law enables injured workers and others to gain compensation either as a result of breach of statutory duties or because a reasonable standard of care was not provided under the particular circumstances. The cost in terms of money and adverse publicity of a prosecution or civil claim can be very high, and there is the potential for a prison sentence in some circumstances.

    Financial reasons for accident prevention ensure the continuing financial health of a business and avoid the costs associated with accidents. These include monetary loss to employers, community and society from worker injuries and ill-health, damage to property and production delays. Some, but not all of these costs are insurable, and these are known as direct costs. They include the cost of compensation for which insurance is a legal requirement). Increased premiums will be a consequence of claims, so an increase in overheads is predictable following accidents.

    Indirect costs include:
    • Uninsured property and material damage
    • Delays
    • Overtime costs and temporary labour
    • Management time spent on investigations
    • Decreased output from those replacing the injured worker(s)
    • Clerical work
    • Fines
    • Loss of expertise and experience

    A study carried out into the costs of accidents showed that for the construction site under review, the direct costs were a small proportion of the total and produced a direct: indirect ratio of 1:11. This ratio is commonly illustrated as an 'iceberg’, because of the invisible hidden costs below the waterline. On the site studied over a period of 18 weeks, 120 people were working, and in that time, there were 56 minor first-aid injuries and no lost-time injuries. But there were also 3, 570 non- injury accidents. The results for major, minor and non- injury accidents are often reproduced in the form of an 'accident triangle’.

    The conclusion to be drawn from this and other accident triangles is that serious injuries are much less frequent than less serious ones, and of course it would be strange if that were not the case. The same amount and quality of information is potentially available for each incident, yet we frequently limit investigations to those incidents where injury or damage is serious — at the tops of the triangles — and thus miss the chance of obtaining a lot more information about what is going wrong. This is why counting and investigating ’near miss’ incidents is useful.

    Finally, a good safety record and documented safety management system can more than repay the time spent on it because of its value in gaining new business. Many clients and project management operations have extensive vetting procedures to identify those contractors and suppliers who are competent in safety matters.

    Conversely, inability to satisfy requirements for competence in safety under Construction Regulations 2014 can result in loss of significant contracts as well as public reputation.

    Sources:
    • Principles of Construction Safety - Allan St John Holt BA, FIOSH, RSP
    • various websites
    • handbooks on Construction Health and Safety
    • Occupational Health and Safety Act and its Regulations
    • The performance approach to construction worker safety and health