IDEAS AND SOLUTIONS
FOR SAFER WORKPLACES
AS I DO MY work and talk to people
about safety, three
things stand out:
1. I have yet to meet
an employee who
intentionally injured him/herself.
2. Most people believe injuries occur
as a result of an “accident”—and that
accidents “just happen.”
3. The notion that “all accidents are
preventable” is crazy talk created
by an idealistic safety profession.
The facts are unavoidable.
A study conducted by leading safety
researcher Herbert Heinrich of 75,000
workplace accidents concluded that
88 percent were caused by unsafe acts,
10 percent by unsafe conditions, and
2 percent by unpreventable causes.
is the president of Platinum
Engineering & Safety, Inc.
INJURY is caused by an
ACCIDENT which is caused by an
UNSAFE ACT (88%) or
UNSAFE CONDITION (10%)
which is caused by an
This means that introducing engineering controls and protective
measures into the workplace could,
at most, be expected to improve safety by
One way to express how injuries occur
PROGRESS IS POSSIBLE
is to have a look at the Domino Theory
(also from Heinrich):
Many undesirable traits come
from social and environment factors.
Some examples include recklessness,
nervousness, lack of knowledge, general
unsafe practices and distractions (time,
money, production, fear).
Heinrich’s research and theory
suggest that most unsafe acts and undesirable traits are within the control
of the employee or can be recognized
and controlled by a supervisor/
While it’s crazy to say that “all
accidents are preventable,” a great
deal of progress is still possible. A more
accurate statement would be “most
accidents are preventable.”
Creating comprehensive safety
policies and procedures is a heck of a
lot easier than trying to get employees
to “behave” their way to safety success.
But if you truly want to keep people
safe, you have no choice. You have to
work on behavior.
Admittedly, it’s a steep challenge.
Some supervisors will feel uncomfortable addressing undesirable traits in
their workers/coworkers. And who has
time for a campaign to positively adjust
the social/workplace environment?
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6 8 | PEI.ORG | Second Quarter 2012