How do you reduce risk?

What do you do when an accident occurs at your work place?  Is there a designated accident investigation team that gathers together, schedules a visit to the accident site as soon as possible, takes pictures and videos, interviews witnesses, and takes detailed notes?  Does an accident committee read the investigation report and come to some conclusions about the accident, including root causes, and offer specific steps to take to try to prevent this from happening again? Does the committee report its findings to the CEO and discuss their findings with all employees at the next safety meeting?  I would hope that you answered yes to most of these questions.  

In the electrical distribution industry, accidents and injuries are not uncommon among workers who spend the majority of their time outdoors.  Federated handles hundreds of claims every year from the systems we insure.  Linemen, by the very nature of line work, fall into a specific category of risk.  Besides the obvious exposure of high voltage electricity, the terrain linemen work in varies from one job site to another.  Weather plays a major role in the ability to get things done, and driving digger derricks and bucket trucks requires drivers to drive defensively.  Avoiding all accidents is a lofty goal, but difficult to accomplish due to the nature of human beings. We are taught how to do things safely, yet for some reason we occasionally don’t follow all of the safety rules.  

Sometimes unsafe modes are caused by repetition, doing the same thing over and over without thinking about safety.  And, on occasion, unsafe modes are due to thinking you can get away with it.  A prime example is texting while driving.  We know that’s risky behavior.  We’ve read about it, saw stories on television about accidents caused by it, and probably see people texting and driving on a regular basis. Yet, for some reason, we may think we are a safe enough driver to think an accident won’t happen to us while texting and driving.  Do we really know better?  We might tell ourselves we can do it just this once.  It’s not going to hurt anything just this one time, right?  And then the accident happens, and you can’t go back in time and get a do over.  It’s too late.  

So what do we need to do to eliminate accidents?  How about instituting a culture of safety?  Watch out for your fellow workers both inside the office and out in the field.  Let them know if you see they are about to do something unsafe.  Stop and remind them if they aren’t following the safety rules. 

When the boss says “be safe” it’s not just a slogan.  It’s a reminder to think about your own safety and the safety of everyone you work with.  Make safety a core value and create a culture of safety where you work.