People are the most important asset in any organisation. The health and safety of individuals not only affects the quality of life while at work, but also the lives, and standard of living of the family and community. There is, thus, a need to safeguard the health and safety of the individual in respect of possible exposure to any occupational hazards.
Management has a moral responsibility concerning their employees, their families and the public at large. Frank Bird refers to the immediate causes of accidents as being, “unsafe Acts and unsafe Conditions”.
These he defines as:
- A study attributes 20% of all injuries on duty to unsafe working conditions.
- They all relate to physical or mechanical defects, which can be corrected relatively cheaply and permanently.
- It is always the first area to be tackled when working on an accident/incident reduction programme.
Some examples of unsafe conditions are:
- Poor guarding – inadequate or inefficient
- Defective Conditions – hand tools, equipment, substances
- Poor Layout – work flow, overcrowding and congestion
- Substandard housekeeping. (A place for everything and everything in its place always). Eg Waste bins, Aisles, Storage, signs & notices
- Loud noise – can’t hear instructions etc
- Inadequate illumination or ventilation – can’t see clearly or breathe properly
- 80% of all injuries on duty are the result of unsafe Acts by people.
- More difficult to reduce as they revolve around people and what they do.
- Will never be entirely cured by training or motivation ie How about the person who has a dizzy spell and collapses onto unguarded drive sprockets?
Some examples of unsafe acts are:
- Speed – operating a machine at a speed it is not designed to run at.
- Working without authority – entering a confined space before it has been declared safe.
- Adjusting moving machinery – lubricating bearings or changing the drive belts while the machine is still running.
- Chance taking – Running in front of a fork lift
- PPE not worn – not wearing safety goggles when grinding.
In conclusion :
- The most effective way to protect the people who work for a company is by reducing the work related accidents. The first area to look at should be the elimination of all unsafe conditions in the factory.
- Regular Audits need to be conducted to identify the unsafe conditions and repairs prioritised and then implemented. This will show the employees that the company is serious about their well-being while they are at work.
- Unsafe acts account for approximately 80% of all industrial accidents. This is always dealt with after unsafe conditions as planning to train the employees on how to act safely is necessary. However, this is not the end as people all make mistakes and accidents will continue to occur.
- Thus, the full health and safety program is an on-going one with continuous improvement taking place.