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Survey and Research Data

 Unsafe Actions

A ten-year study conducted by DuPont in the United States found that 96 per cent of accidents experienced at the company were the result of unsafe actions—where employees went beyond their limits--rather than unsafe conditions. A 2006 Liberty Mutual workplace safety study further found that more than 50 per cent of all workplace injuries were the result of over-exertion, falls, twisting or other physical movements, and that this resulted in estimated annual workers’ compensation costs of US $46 billion.[10]

Workplace Injuries

A summary of key annual workplace injuries data reported by the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive for 2008-2009 included the following:

  • ill health
    - 1.2 million workers were suffering from an illness believed to have been caused—or made worse—by their work (551,000 of these were new cases)
  • injuries
    - 180 workers were killed at work, a rate of 0.6 per 100,000 workers
    - 131,895 other injuries to employees were reported, a rate of 502.2 per 100,000 employees
    - 246,000 reportable injuries occurred, a rate of 870 per 100,000 workers.
  • working days lost
    - 29.3 million days were lost overall (1.24 days per worker), 24.6 million due to work-related ill health, and 4.7 million due to workplace injury.[11]

Giving Critical Feedback

Safety cultures can be improved by optimising safety-related communication throughout an organisation. Safety culture surveys involving hundreds of organisations were carried out by Safety Performance Solutions (SPS) Inc. in the United States. The surveys showed that most employees were reluctant to speak out about behavioural risks that they observed. SPS found that while 90 per cent of employees believed they should caution others they observed operating at-risk, only 60 per cent actually took action and provided this critical feedback. When respondents were queried about this gap, they felt that giving safety-related feedback may cause interpersonal conflict; they also considered that it was not really their job to give this safety feedback. Sometimes, they did not feel competent to give safety feedback or did not want to offend co-workers that had more experience. There was also a tendency to underestimate the willingness to receive safety feedback; 74 per cent of respondents said that they welcomed safety-related feedback, but only 28 per cent believed other employees felt the same way. [12]

Older Workers Good for Organizations

By 2016, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the number of workers aged 65 and up would increase by more than 80 per cent. Older workers are reportedly more productive. They are credited with less absenteeism, greater job satisfaction, and fewer on-the-job accidents; this is because they tend to be more careful and more focused on the tasks performed. However, when older workers do experience injuries, the severity tends to be more significant. It was found that older workers benefit organisations, and that it is worthwhile to make workplace modifications to prevent or limit the severity of potential injuries to older workers. According to the National Safety Council, 33 per cent of all injuries to workers 65 and older are caused by falls. Other areas of concern include musculoskeletal disorders, which include back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and work-related roadway crashes. [13]

Ergonomics Evaluations Save Money

Some 2000 offices in the United States were assessed for the impact of ergonomic conditions, training, and equipment used by office workers. A sample of 299 employee evaluations reported measurable gains in productivity as a result of improved ergonomics, with an average increase of 34 minutes per day. At $30 per hour this represented $4,250 per year, per employee. Costs associated with performing the evaluations—along with the average hardware improvement costs—per employee amounted to $600. Therefore, net savings, without allowing for any injury or illness avoidance costs, was calculated at $3,650 per employee per year (i.e. $4,250 - $600), and the return on investment period was 2.3 months. Considerable savings were also recorded in illness and injury reductions, with an decrease of 28 per cent in cases. [14]


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