A new white paper from the Campbell Institute, presented by Joy Inouye, a researcher for the institute, for the media on Tuesday morning at the NSC Congress, details serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace.
Over the past two decades, the U.S. has seen enormous gains in workplace safety, according to the report, titled Serious Injury and Fatality Prevention: Perspectives and Practices. The incident rate dropped to 3.0 incidents per 200,000 working hours in 2016 from 8.5 incidents per 200,000 hours in 1993.
However, worker fatalities are at an eight-year high, with 5,190 people dying in 2016.
The Campbell report recommends a redesign of the classic safety triangle, which consists of non-injury accidents, minor injuries and major injuries. This model treats all minor incidents and near misses as if they had the potential to result in a more serious injury or fatality and diverts attention away from the incidents that have the most potential to result in something serious.
The updated structure is based on identifying the root causes and contextual factors that lead to serious injuries and fatalities on the job. Organizations cannot make their workplaces safer by “fixing the worker,” rather they should design work processes to eliminate human error. This makes safety less dependent on employee behavior and more dependent on the safety system.
Strategies to prevent serious injuries and fatalities from occurring include identifying potential precursors to such events and educating employees about those precursors. In addition, companies can focus on eliminating the potential for such incidents to occur.
The white paper can be accessed at thecampbellinstitute.org.