August 12-18 is “Safe and Sound Week.” The OSHA website states that it is a nationwide event held each August to recognize the successes of workplace health and safety programs, and it encourages organizations to participate by planning and promoting safety events.
FRA has had a long-time commitment to safety. Perhaps FRA’s most impactful safety contribution has been our many Safety Alerts, which describe actual incidents where an accident or injury is analyzed in accordance with a chain of events visually represented by five dominos:
Background – Personal Characteristics – Unsafe Acts and Conditions – Accident – Injury. Pioneer industrial safety experts H.W. Heinrich and Alfred Lateiner developed this accident analysis system to provide a graphic sense of how industrial injuries can be avoided.
The way that most individuals and organizations can successfully interrupt the “falling domino” sequence of events leading to an injury is to target the Unsafe Acts and Conditions: find a better or safer way to conduct an activity, or remove, guard, or warn against the unsafe condition, with removing being the first priority.
Heinrich also developed a statistical relationship between the number of accidents that result in near misses (no injuries), minor injuries, or major injuries/fatalities. Although his “Injury Triangle” numbers have been challenged by modern researchers, he proposed that for every 330 incidents, approximately 300 of them would result in “near misses” or accidents where there was no injury, approximately 29 events would result in a minor injury, and one event would produce a major injury or even a fatality.
How can we use the injury triangle to think about loss prevention? One analogy would be to imagine that you or your organization has a bag of M&M’s, SweeTARTS, or other candies where there are a few hundred individual candies in the bag. Twenty-nine of the candies in the bag will make an individual mildly sick, and one of them will make a person very sick and maybe even kill him or her.
If you are offered a candy from the bag, would you eat it? Are you a gambler who would you eat 10 of them if you someone paid you for taking the risk? Would you be willing to eat all the candies in the bag if someone paid you? (I hope not!)
Is safety worth gambling over? Think of “taking a candy from the bag” as representing unsafe actions taken during the course of a week, year, or lifetime. If you continue to commit unsafe acts on the job or fail to remove/correct unsafe conditions, sooner or later you are going to eat the bad candy! The first one might be the killer. The last one might be the killer. But the potential is always there, and you can’t really predict when an unsafe act or condition will cause an incident to “go totally bad” and cause an injury (or worse).
Think about your job. Are you “rehearsing an accident” by taking a chance with an unsafe action or failing to remove, guard, or warn against an unsafe condition? The challenge with woods work in our industry is that gambling on safety has the potential to kill you or a co-worker at any time.
Safe and Sound Week encourages companies to promote safety. Check out our Safety Alerts on the FRA website. Additionally, FRA has many Technical Releases promoting Safe and Sound ideas. Two excellent examples available on the FRA website include:
18-R-3, Top Ten Logging Safety Best Practices
16-R-23, Ten Keys to Trucking Fleet Safety
Note: FRA website access required for both Technical Release. If you need help logging on to the FRA website, please contact Jacob Minor, [email protected].