Workers Compensation

Zero Injuries: Possible or Impossible? - Part 2

8/29/2019 | Ray Gage

Last week, I introduced the concept of zero workplace injuries and gave the following ideas on where to start on the quest towards achieving that goal: 

  • Make sure you are hiring the right employees.  By ‘right employees’, I mean make sure you verify the people you hire are capable of performing the essential job functions. 
  • Know how to spot a fraudulent claim and take steps towards preventing that practice. 
  • Change the way you present, implement and reward safety. 
  • Track everything!  Data is king but you can’t utilize it if you don’t have it at your fingertips.  
  • Invest in the health and well-being of your employees.  You have maintenance programs for critical components, processes and fleet management.  How are you investing in your most important asset? 

The focus last week was on the last suggestion regarding investing in the health and well-being of your employees to assist in your efforts to get to the goal of zero workplace injuries.  The topic for this week revolves around the data.  What data should you be collecting and how can you utilize that data to reduce and ultimately eliminate workplace injuries? 

As with most of the topics involving worker’s compensation, let’s start at the beginning.  Early studies by H.W. Heinrich, an Assistant Superintendent in the Engineering and Inspection division of Travelers Insurance Co. and a pioneer in data collection and analysis, determined that 88% of all workplace accidents are caused by unsafe acts.  Heinrich’s research also stated that for every 330 accidents, 300 will result in no injuries, 29 will result in minor injuries and one will result in a major injury.   

In the 1970’s, Frank E. Bird, who worked for the Insurance Company of North America, analyzed 1.7 million accidents across 297 different companies and found similar data to Heinrich.  While the argument can be made that there are differences in injuries based on the type of work, the key is remembering to look at the big picture.  The big picture is that early warning signs exist and for those who study and identify them within their organization, steps can be taken to correct potential hazards before they turn into actual injuries. 

Where should you start?  Track near misses.  What is a near miss?  Any condition that is unsafe is a near miss.  Any incident that does not result in injury is a near miss.  Analyze the circumstances surrounding every near miss, identify potential hazards and implement corrective action.  Sound familiar?  It should.  This is a normal function of your safety committee(s) for dealing with injuries.  With just a few tweaks, the same can be done for near misses.

In addition, pay close attention to your OSHA logs.  With the right software, such as OSHAlogs.com, offered by WalkerHughes, tracking recordable workplace incidents is easy.  Identifying trends at a specific job site, facility, within a department or across specific job activities regardless of location becomes invaluable information when properly utilized.   

The most important piece of this puzzle is engagement.  Everyone must buy in to the process.  Ownership must effectively communicate the purpose for anything new to management, supervisors and rank-and-file employees.  What’s in it for them?  Answer that question thoughtfully and with compassion, taking into consideration their feelings and the normal human desire to resist change.   

Preventing workplace injuries will become easier than trying to mitigate the impact of an injury after it has happened.  Both processes can be time consuming, but the actual cost to an employer for a workplace injury goes far beyond the actual dollars and cents.  Focus on being a prevention-first employer and the positive impact to your bottom line will be measurable sooner rather than later. 

Check back next Thursday for more to come on this topic!

About the Author:

Ray Gage, Director of WalkerHughes Allen County Office, is a Master Work Comp Advisor who's passion and life's work is to help sophisticated, process-oriented businesses create safe, healthy, productive workplaces, and as a result, more profitable firms.  Feel free to contact Ray at r.gage@walkerhughes.com or by phone at 260-627-3641 with any questions or inquiries.