The workplace can be a dangerous environment, especially in an industrial setting. In 2017 alone, there were 2.9 million non-fatal injuries in the workplace. While that number is down slightly from years past, improving employee safety and reducing workplace accidents remain important goals for many companies throughout the country.
Examples of Workplace Accidents in an Industrial Environment
Imagine walking into your plant one Monday morning to find the light bulb over your work area had blown over the weekend. No big deal, you think. You decide to report it at the end of the shift and go about setting up your drilling press for the work day.
After a few hours, you notice that your shoulders are a little sore but chalk it up to the snow you had to shovel over the weekend. You are not even aware of the awkward humped posture you’ve put yourself in to get a little closer to the press in order to best see the drill area that is likely causing you the discomfort.
After a few more hours, you decide you need to stretch out your back and take a brief break to rub your shoulders and now aching lower back. After a few minutes, you feel a bit of relief and head back to your press. However, because of the dark work area, you don’t realize that you haven’t properly secured the metal to the press when getting back to your station, and next thing you know, the metal jumps up slicing your hand and arm, requiring stitches.
Accidents like the one described above are far too common. Often employees do not associate a small issue, such as poor lighting, with injuries. However, had the employee above taken the time to request a bulb change at the start of shift, the pain in his shoulders and back could have been avoided and he would have been able to clearly see the metal was not properly secure had the space been brighter.
Industrial accidents are often avoidable but require awareness of proper safety protocols by both the employee and management.
What Are the Main Causes of Industrial Accidents?
There are a number of factors that can lead to industrial accidents, including everything from improper lifting techniques to mishandling hazardous materials. Below are some common causes of accidents in the workplace.
Environmental Causes of Accidents
Accidents which occur from environmental causes refer to those workplace accidents that happen because of the working environment. The environmental factors can be both natural and man-made such as workplace design. Common environmental causes of accidents include:
- Poor lighting –
Low visibility is a common cause of slips, trips, and falls.
- Ambient temperature –
If a workplace is too hot, overheating can occur. If the workplace is too cold, frostbite or hypothermia can occur.
- Air pollution –
Breathing issues can develop if a workplace has poor ventilation and/or air pollution.
- Sound pollution –
The sound in a workplace can cause injury to a worker’s hearing.
Mechanical Causes of Industrial Accidents
Mechanical causes of industrial accidents are factors that refer to machine or equipment failure or breakdown. Generally, with proper maintenance and safety processes in place, these types of accidents are preventable. Common mechanical causes of accidents include:
- Broken or damaged machine –
Parts can be easily broken or damaged if made of poor-quality metal.
- Power failure –
Total or partial power failure can lead to serious injury.
- Fire or explosion –
Cooling failure or a small spark can lead to a mechanical fire or explosion.
- Fair wear and tear –
The older machine, the more wear and tear on the parts which can lead to a higher risk of mechanical accident.
Human Factors That Cause Accidents
Accidents caused by human factors refers to incidents in which the accident is directly attributed to the worker involved in the accident. Common human factors that cause industrial accidents include:
- Poor housekeeping –
An unkempt work space can lead to slips, trips, and falls.
- Fatigue –
When a body is tired, injury is more likely to occur.
- Overexertion –
Overexertion injuries are the most common type of workplace injury.
- Stress –
Workers who are stressed are often more distracted and of greater risk of injury.
- Dehydration –
It is important to consume enough water to ensure you body functions properly.
- Improper Lifting –
Lower back strains and shoulder injuries are common among workers who use improper lifting techniques.
Tips for the Prevention of Industrial Accidents
When it comes to industrial accidents, incidents are almost always preventable when proper safety measures and employee training are in place. Tips for avoiding industrial accidents include:
- Developing an employee safety plan with feedback from all level employees
- Requiring monthly employee training and promote safety awareness with an internal safety committee
- Focusing on skill development and education of all employees
- Ensuring supervisors are monitoring and reporting on the progress of all safety measures
- Providing avenue for employees to share safety concerns and ideas for improving safety
- Establishing a planned maintenance schedule for all machines – daily, weekly, monthly based on manufacturer suggestion
- Quickly repairing and addressing all defective or broken machine parts
- Testing all equipment before use
- Creating a regular inspection schedule and put mechanisms in place to ensure it is adhered to
Related: 9 Workplace Injury Prevention Tips for the Smart HR Manager
While there is no absolute guarantee that industrial accidents will not occur within any given company, proper planning and training are two keys to drastically reducing the risk of incident. Briotix Health works with companies to create comprehensive injury prevention programs that improve employee health, reduce the number of worker injuries, and save companies money.
To learn more about the Briotix Health solution, contact us today.