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Occupational Safety
Article Index
Occupational Safety
Expert Opinion
Survey and Research
Example Cases
Measure and Evaluate
Self-Assessments
Summary of Best Practices
Words of Wisdom
Conclusion
References

Example Cases

Valuable lessons can be learned from the following organisations:

Scarborough Hospital, Canada
Health and safety programme achieves
significant improvements

Scarborough Hospital was able to significantly improve its safety performance levels by establishing a sustainable improvement framework to effectively engage its entire workforce. The system-wide approach was implemented as follows:

  • a senior-level steering committee gave endorsement and became project champions
  • a task force was established, representing all staff levels
  • a project team was set up with a budget of $160,000
  • 36 corporate policies, which applied to all personnel, and 108 specific job-hazard analysis-related polices were developed
  • 48 training programmes were rolled out to all employees
  • prizes were awarded, and posters reporting staff testimonials were published. Continuous quality improvement mechanisms were put in place to monitor progress against benchmarks; this resulted in a 70 per cent reduction in lost-time incidents, i.e. falling from 159 in 2005-2006 to 96 in 2006-2007 and 48 in 2007-2008. [15]

Union Carbide, India
Health and safety: learn lessons from the past

Toxic gas released by Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, killed more than 3,000 people, permanently injuring more than 50,000. This could have been avoided if a few safety precautions had been properly implemented; the following were the major contributing factors:

  • lack of a formal hazard identification process
  • lack of an adequate management of change program
  • lack of an adequate mechanical integrity program
  • lack of an adequate emergency response plan.

Astonishingly, a similar disaster had taken place ten years earlier at a chemical plant in Flixborough, in the United Kingdom, which killed 28 workers and injured 80 more. The major contributing factors were exactly the same as those listed above. Sadly, the lessons learned at Flixborough had not been implemented in safety programmes at Bhopal. The lesson is clear: past incidents should be studied and absorbed by all parties working in related industries. [16]

Worthington Industries, International
Workplace safety: behavioural approach
gives world-leading results

Worthington Industries expanded its safety programmes to include injury prevention. Previously, workers had experienced some 1,000 injuries per year, which cost US$6 million per year in compensation expenses. Employees at Worthington enjoyed significant input into how the business was run. Improvement teams used 5-S workplace improvement tools, which contributed to a 15 per cent reduction in workplace injuries. It was recognised that further improvements could be made by influencing workplace decisions and staff behaviours. Each employee carried 3x5-inch cards, which listed required safety behaviour. The cards were marked by colleagues when they witnessed appropriate behaviour. The safety behaviours listed on the cards were “retired” after 30 days of consistent compliance. Over 2,000 safety behaviours have been retired since the scheme started in 2001. These initiatives enabled Worthington to regularly report world-leading safety and injury rates. [17]

Large Refinery Plant, United States
Health and safety gives false impressions

An idling pick-up truck ignited highly flammable gas at a large refinery plant in the United States; the resulting explosion killed 15 people. An independent inquiry found that management had not distinguished between occupational safety and process safety. Measures at the refinery focused primarily on lagging indicators for occupational safety; this led to an erroneous belief that safety was improving. The explosion occurred even though a prior hazard evaluation had recommended that the equipment involved be replaced. Opportunities to replace the outdated equipment were missed, and a devastating explosion resulted. This underscored the importance for every person at the facility—i.e. from the board of directors to plant operators and maintenance personnel—to be aware of all potential hazards. [18]

 Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, UK
Teamwork: checklist improves communication

At Leeds Teaching Hospitals, high levels of teamwork and communication were required during complex surgical procedures. To improve this process, Leeds Teaching Hospitals used a safe surgery checklist; this required the healthcare team to take time out before making skin incisions, to introduce themselves by name and role, and to discuss the patient and possible problems. This action helped to empower all members of the team, and created a shared sense of responsibility. Leeds personnel become far more cohesive as a group, felt safer, and potential misunderstandings were reduced. Patient care also became more personalised. The traditional hierarchy was diminished, leaving the whole team feeling more empowered to speak out. Working relationships improved tremendously, as surgeons became aware of potential difficulties and helped to resolve them. When this checklist was used by hospitals worldwide, surgical deaths and complications were reduced by a third. [19]

 PepsiAmericas, Inc, South America
Workplace safety: corporate culture change

By systematically changing its corporate culture, PepsiAmericas established itself as a world-class industry leader in employee safety. A safety team provided strategic direction and managed safety initiatives. The costs associated with safety issues provided compelling reasons to address safety on an enterprise-wide basis. After benchmarking and compiling statistics, the following model was put in place to create a new safety culture:

  • a corporate safety manual and employee safety handbook were developed
  • compliance measures embedded into operations
  • highly visible score-boarding tools
  • cost-containment measures
  • communication and recognition tools (e.g. an industrial safety newsletter, a safe-driver recognition programme, and a safe work site recognition programme).

Among the results emanating from this model were:

  • 55% reduction in lost time cases
  • 29% reduction in OSHA recordable cases
  • 14% reduction in overall claim count, and
  • 37% reduction in at-fault vehicle accidents.

The organisation’s focused approach to corporate safety was founded on the following safety commitment: “PepsiAmericas is committed to the health, safety and environmental well-being of our employees and the communities we serve. To that end, PepsiAmericas aims to provide a safe and productive work environment consistent with one of the world’s largest growing premier beverage companies.” [20]

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