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It doesn't matter how careful a business is – industrial accidents happen. Even Disney World,arguably the happiest place on Earth, isn't entirely immune. In June 2018, the Mouse saw the tragic death of an employee in a construction-related industrial accident, but was it avoidable?
Industrial accidents and disasters are typically caused by one of three things: negligence, incompetence or mere happenstance. Some of the worst chemical accidents of all time – from the Fukushima disaster to BP's Gulf oil spill – could have been prevented somewhere along the chain of command. Others are mere victims of circumstance, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been enforcing health and safety best practices since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970.
OSHA has helped reduce worker injuries to 2.9 per 100 workers in America, but everyone can always do better. One of the main ways to keep your workplace accident-free is to identify and eliminate the most common causes of industrial disasters and accidents.
The Fatal Four
Construction accidents account for one in five worker deaths each year. OSHA estimates that the lives of 631 American workers would be saved if companies could eliminate "The Fatal Four" – the four most common causes of workplace fatalities.
Falls contribute to a whopping 38.7 percent of construction fatalities, getting struck by an object accounts for 9.4 percent and electrocutions account for 8.3 percent. Being caught in between equipment and objects is the fourth most dangerous and accounts for 7.3 percent of construction worker fatalities. In most cases, these deaths are preventable.
Human Error and Complacency
Everyone is tempted to take shortcuts, especially when they're working long, tedious hours, but shortcuts are one of the most common causes of industrial accidents. It's easy to ignore safety procedures, especially when they take time and you're confident in your work. This negligence is, unfortunately, a breeding ground for employee injury.
Many companies tend to skip on safety training or just don't have a rigorous enough plan. In fact, OSHA cites a lack of fall-protection training and hazard communication as two of their most commonly cited violations. Don't rely on the fact that something probably won't happen. Instead, be proactive. Accidents are inevitable, so dedicate the time and resources to safety training.
Proper Maintenance Can Prevent the Worst Chemical Accidents
Aside from human error in the heat of the moment, industrial accidents often have to do with a lack of long-term maintenance. Skimping can help save some cash, but the consequences of this kind of negligence are perfectly illustrated in "Deepwater Horizon," the 2016 American film based on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Ignoring regular maintenance is one of the major causes of industrial disasters and can transform minor problems into fatalities.
Many of OSHA's most common violations are maintenance-related. Companies opt to skimp on or not replace weathered fall protection, respiratory protection or machinery guarding. Violations in electrical wiring methods, powered industrial trucks and control of hazardous energy are also extremely common. If you're hyper-vigilant in following OSHA's best practices, maintenance-related industrial accidents can usually be avoided.
- Reference For Business: Safety In The Workplace
- The Huffington Post: Gulf Oil Spill Could Have Been Prevented By BP Workers Who Weren’t Consulted: Report
- The Guardian: Fukushima Disaster Could Have Been Avoided Nuclear Plant Operator Admits
- United States Department Of Labor: Occupational Safety And Health Administration
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner with an editorial background in lifestyle and technology. Her work has been featured in Alternative Press, Vice and HelloGiggles. When Mariel's not writing, she can be found swishing her hair on stage with her punk band and managing the ins-and-outs of self-employment.