Watch Out For Human Errors They Are Really Training Errors
 March 21, 2011

The goal of every safety program is to eliminate the occurrence of work-related injuries. But, to achieve favorable results you must thoroughly understand the loss exposures inherent to your operation and the injury causing hazards associated with the tools and machinery in your manufacturing process. An effective safety plan also includes training employees on the proper and safe use of the tools and machinery used by your company.

Most safety plans emphasize hazard inspection of tools and machinery, but would you be surprised to learn that only 10% of workplace accidents are directly caused by mechanical failures? It’s true. Very few injuries actually result from worn or faulty equipment. Even more uncommon are those accidents or injuries resulting from elements totally beyond human control such as an act of nature. These account for only 2% of work-related injuries. Research shows that the largest contributor to work-related injuries is human error. In fact, 88% of all workplace injuries are caused by human error. These causes vary, but generally the contributing factors are either machine operators who are not confident with their job tasks or workers who are overconfident in their job tasks and take shortcuts. In either case, both are training issues.

But, can a loss prevention program and training address human error? To be successful, loss preventions program must recognize the role of human error in work related injuries and address human error in all safety training. If not, you're missing the opportunity to address, as mentioned above, 88% of the causes of work-place injuries.

Your Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) has a safety training requirement. Ensuring that employees are properly trained and use personal protective equipment should be fundamental to all safety training. Supervisors should focus their attention on ensuring that tools and machinery are operated in a manner consistent with their design, employees are appropriately trained before operating equipment in a live work environment and that every employee entering the work environment has the appropriate personal protective equipment in place.

To begin tackling human error and its role in work related injuries you need to do some homework. Analyze past injuries and make sure you understand the direct, contributing and root causes of the accident. Look for human errors and bad decisions and find out why your employee made that choice. Were they unaware of safe operating procedures? Were they rushing to complete a job? Were they adjusting the routine because of a problem with the machinery or tools? Their answers to those and other questions about the accident should be part of the original accident investigation and will become training topics for future safety meetings.

Manufacturers with strong safety practices consistently inspect. Machinery operation presents hazards. Know all the hazards associated with the tools and equipment in your manufacturing process, as well as, your overall work environment. Check for problems before every shift, as you inspect ask yourself:

  • Are proper warning signs in place in high-risk areas?
  • Are banisters installed in every stairway along with anti-slip grips on the stairs?
  • Are employees properly trained for the equipment they are using?
  • Is everyone wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment and has that equipment been inspected to ensure it performs consistent with protection expectations?
  • Is the equipment or machinery in the manufacturing process working properly?
  • Are workstations ergonomically designed in an appropriate manner for the worker at that station?
  • Have you held workplace safety meetings recently to ensure employees are aware of your company’s safety guidelines and policies? Are safety policies posted?

A strong commitment to safety is also a commitment to productivity. Working safely produces fewer injuries, less downtime and greater productivity. By addressing human errors along with other workplace hazards you'll create a comprehensive safety plan that ultimately helps you reduce your workers’ compensation claims and costs.


Latest Articles
CompCheck Newsletter