Thought Leadership


Not Again – How to resolve recurring injuries

May 27, 2014

Recently, a manager in one of our service organizations asked some questions about recurring injury trends. The trends revealed a higher incident rate among newer employees and also an injury pattern around time of day. The manager understood how newer employees can have a higher injury frequency rate; however, he was intrigued by the other data. He wondered how the specific day of the week, and particularly the time of day, could influence an injury rate. Why are injuries between 10:00AM and noon so common? Have I seen this trend before?

The injury trend occurring among less than two- year tenure employees is fairly common. More injuries per capita typically occur to employees who are new.

I have experienced similar statistical dilemmas in my career. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the days which experience a higher injury frequency rate. Thursdays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays follow. The time period from 10:00AM to noon experiences the most incidents. There is no way to be assured of the reasoning, but here are some possible ideas:

  • Assuming that the first break is scheduled around 9:00AM, these are injuries occurring soon after break.

These are injuries occurring just prior to lunch, potentially indicating that worker's minds are on other things than the task at hand.

In the past, I have conducted interviews with questions focused on the identified time of day injury pattern. Here are some questions to consider:

  • After their first break, are workers required to re-engage in a review of the risk analysis for their work and the work environment to ensure that risks are controlled?
  • Are certain work groups/areas more affected by the 10-12 time, meaning is there a concentration of injuries during this time in a specific area?
  • Are there any prescribed safety activities that leaders engage in during this time period?  If so, what are the activities and what does the quality of these activities look like?  If not, should there be and what should the activities be?

I've known organizations that have identified similar trends in their analysis and decided to introduce another tool box (switch-on) meeting along with safety exercises and a review of risk analysis after breaks.

The injury trend occurring among less than two- year tenure employees is fairly common. More injuries per capita typically occur to employees who are new. 

Often, the solution is to develop an excellent error-proof New Employee Orientation (NEO) program. This program could involve the use of indicator clothing (different color hard hat or vest) worn by new employees until they pass certification tests or have been there for a period of time which gets them through the new employee phase. This phase is followed by a graduation ceremony, which has safety components and other recognition as they graduate to experienced employee status.   

It is also fairly normal for certain jobs to have predominant injury types like hands and fingers, slips-trips-falls, backing up vehicle damage and the like. 

In turn, this kind of discovery leads to a Continuous Improvement or Rapid Improvement Workshop Team which analyzes, focuses and delivers policies, procedures and training on the injury trend.

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