SAFETY PERSPECTIVES

Safety Blind Spots in the Most Dangerous Industries in America

Posted by  Craig White

warning-signSafety industry professionals have made great strides in reducing the number of workplace injuries and fatalities in the U.S. In fact, the number of deaths at work has steadily declined over the last 30 years. That said, workplace accidents still took the lives of 4,405 workers in 2013. Think about that for a second. Every single day that year 12 people went to work but didn’t come home. This number is still far too high, given what we know today about employee safety, chiefly because many of these incidents could have been prevented. Therefore, breaking down the most common types of accidents by industry will reveal the key safety blind spots for each.

Some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others, and as expected, those industries saw the greatest number of fatalities. Acknowledging that a percentage of these deaths were unavoidable and did not result from an employee displaying unsafe behaviors, my goal here is to highlight areas in which a legitimate potential exists to reduce the number of avoidable fatalities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries identifies two general categories of industry type, each containing multiple subcategories. The key safety blind spots associated with the corresponding factor of the S.A.F.E. Model of SafetyDNATM represent the types of safety behaviors that increase the risk of being involved in a safety incident.

Goods Producing
  • Natural resources and mining
o   Total workplace fatalities: 633
o   Common avoidable incident: Struck by objects and equipment
o   Key safety blind spot: Aware of Surroundings
  • Construction
o   Total workplace fatalities: 796
o   Common avoidable incident: Falls to a lower level
o   Key safety blind spot: Follows Rules
  • Manufacturing
o   Total workplace fatalities: 304
o   Common avoidable incident: Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects
o   Key safety blind spot: Exhibits Caution

Service producing

  • Trade, transportation, and utilities
o   Total workplace fatalities: 1,153
o   Common avoidable incident: Struck by powered vehicle – non-transport
o   Key safety blind spot: Aware of Surroundings
  • Information
o   Total workplace fatalities: 39
o   Common avoidable incident: Falls to a lower level
o   Key safety blind spot: Exhibits Caution
  • Financial activities
o   Total workplace fatalities: 84
o   Common avoidable incident: Falls to a lower level
o   Key safety blind spot: Exhibits Caution
  • Professional and business services
o   Total workplace fatalities: 408
o   Common avoidable incident: Exposure to electricity or harmful substances
o   Key safety blind spot: Aware of Surroundings
  • Educational and health services
o   Total workplace fatalities: 131
o   Common avoidable incident: Overexertion
o   Key safety blind spot: Stays in Control
  • Leisure and hospitality
o   Total workplace fatalities: 202
o   Common avoidable incident: Falls to a lower level
o   Key safety blind spot: Aware of Surroundings
  • Other services
o   Total workplace fatalities: 179
o   Common avoidable incident: Struck by powered vehicle – non-transport
o   Key safety blind spot: Aware of Surroundings

As you can see, common themes emerge across industries, specifically falls, exposures, and striking/being struck by objects. However, the most salient safety blind spots can depend on the work context at a particular organization. Managers can use this information to update their safety programs with an added focus on changing the critical safety behaviors related to each blind spot, which in turn will reduce employee risk exposures and safety incidents.

Source: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0285.pdf

Blind Spots: 4 Psychological Factors That Can Get Your Injured

Tags:   safe behavior, employee safety, SafetyDNA

Craig White

Craig White is a doctoral student in the industrial/organizational psychology program at Texas A&M University. His research domains include selection test development, training, and team processes and performance. He has been closely involved in applied safety and health research projects at the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC Health Services Research and Development CoE in Houston, TX. He is also a Contract Safety Services Consultant for Select International.

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