Most companies do a fairly good job of addressing the most significant risks in a given facility. If someone has to work with toxic waste, they will provide them with the proper PPE to limit exposure. If people are working in an area where there is a risk of items falling from above, they will be provided with hard hats for protection. This is absolutely essential, but it doesn’t truly even begin to cover the subject of injury prevention.
The prevention of injuries requires an in depth analysis of an entire facility to look for not only the obvious hazards, but even those which are much more difficult to see. Things like small amounts of certain types of gas in the air, for example, are not dangerous at first glance, but if someone is working in the area for a full shift without repertory protection, it can lead to problems. In addition, some people are more susceptible to certain things than others, so it is important to address risks for everyone in the facility.
One way to prevent future injuries and illnesses is to look to the past. Looking through accident and injury reports for a facility can help to identify patterns, and find smaller risks which should still be addressed. When looking at this type of information, it is important to determine which injuries and illnesses are caused by a situation at work, and which ones are outside the scope of the facility.
For example, if someone gets sick and reports to their doctor that they are suffering from shortness of breath, it could be caused by ongoing exposure to something while at work. It could also be the result of working in an enclosed area with paint, glue, exhaust or other things while at home. Taking the time to look deeper into these cases can help to identify where the real cause actually is. It could also be a combination of factors occurring both at home and at work, which can make this job very difficult.
Analyzing Factors & Taking Action
When attempting to identify risks in the workplace, and implement injury prevention strategies, it is important that the person performing the investigation is familiar with the workplace. Understanding what types of chemicals, gasses and other hazards exist in the facility is essential for putting together what can sometimes be a complicated puzzle of factors leading to an illness or injury.
In addition, the person investigating these situations should be seen as a trusted resource by everyone in the area. Employees shouldn’t be worried about sharing the details of their injury, or what goes on in their workplace. If they can’t be open and honest about what they believe may have contributed to the accident or illness, it will be virtually impossible to identify root causes and take action to find solutions.
When a specific cause of one or more illnesses or injuries is discovered, it is essential to find a solution which addresses the root cause. It is not enough to simply cover up or deal with the symptoms of the problem. For true injury prevention, the root of the risk must be identified and addressed directly.