Accidents and Hazards
Accidents are one of the biggest concerns in any worksite, be it a construction site or general industry sector. More often than not they bring about injury and illness to the workers as well as loss and delay to the project. This clearly justifies why the goal of any organizational HSE policy is to reduce the number of workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses. If we dig deep enough we find that every accident is rooted in issues related to untrained EMPLOYEE, faulty EQUIPMENT, inappropriate METHOD, poor MANAGEMENT or hazardous work ENVIRONMENT.
An effective workplace accident prevention program has two fundamental aspects, namely identifying hazards and controlling the risks posed by those hazards. We will discuss both in this article.
A hazard can simply be defined as anything which has potential to cause harm to workers or the work itself. Earthquake, landslide, flammable substance, smoke & fume, low visibility, working underground, working at height, entering confined space, etc. have the potential to cause harm one way or another thus should be considered as hazards.
The immediate cause of every accident is either some kind of Behavioral Hazard or Conditional Hazard present at the worksite. Behavioral Hazards are unsafe human actions, such as inadequate body posture, unsafe equipment use, negligent housekeeping, etc. whereas Conditional Hazards are found in work environment, such as chemical, fire, electricity, pressure, noise, faulty equipment, vibration, fume or even external weather events and disasters.
A construction worksite is ridden with all kinds of hazards, such as slip, trip, falling objects, electrocution, falling from height, confined space, chemical spill, caught in machine, stored energy, etc. Moreover, Electrical, Fall, Struck-By and Caught-In or –Between hazards are known as the fearsome four of construction safety.
Nevertheless, it is imperative to understand that every hazard has a potential to translate into a risk and then followed by a full-blown accident. When we fail to timely eliminate the source of hazards or mitigate the risks posed by them, we are left to deal with severe consequences of the accident.
From the accident occurrence stand point, hazards can be differentiated into three categories, namely (i) The hazard that has not yet caused any accident or loss, (ii) The hazard that nearly caused accident but without injury or loss and (iii) The hazard that caused accident resulting in injury, illness, fatality or loss. The objective of reducing the number of accidents, in other words reducing the risks of their occurrence, is possible only when we are able to identify the hazards which cause the accidents in the first place. Below we discuss some more details on hazard identification process. (Cont’d….)
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