Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Root causes of workplace in injury in Nova Scotia

I ran across “Patterns of Root Cause in Workplace Injury” by Bruce Dodge the other day. This paper summarizes a qualitative investigation of serious workplace injury events in Nova Scotia. It focuses on determining root causes (rather than proximate causes) of injury.

The article has some interesting bits:
“A picture emerges from the data of employers who have not effectively managed workplace safety or implemented comprehensive safety systems. This is not to say employers with safety systems do not have injuries, but the dominant picture emerging from the investigation data is of workplaces where safety is not a recognized role of management, or is not a priority.” (p.12)

“Leadership recognition and acceptance of their role in safety emerges as the single most important element missing across workplaces reflected in the injury based data set. A lack of awareness of safety, or lack of understanding about how to conduct work safely, identify hazards and create safe means of conducting the work is prevalent in the injury data. The technical side of how to prevent injuries is readily available for the needs of most workplaces, what appears to be absent is the decision to create safe workplaces and commit to actions to consciously and intentionally prevent injury.” (p.12)

“The imbalance of power in the workplace is reflected in activities undertaken by workers knowing they are at risk. Management commitment to safety must be demonstrated through events, not simply stated. The injury-based data reflects an underlying premise that workers are expected to do what needs to be done, without unduly concerning themselves with risk.” (p.13)

Ouch! This seems to add to the argument that employers cannot really be trusted to ensure workers' safety through self-regulation.

-- Bob Barnetson

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