Accidents waiting to happen: Insider knowledge

Feb 25, 2013

Workplace accidents must be treated like any other source of knowledge if companies and their employees are to learn from such incidents and prevent future accidents from occurring. That is the take home message from research to be published in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics in March.

Hernâni Veloso Neto of the Institute of Sociology at the University of Porto, Portugal, explains that industrial and rarely have a positive effect within an organisation, but they do represent a potential opportunity to learn about risks and so effect behavioural and procedural changes to preclude similar events from taking place again. Neto has undertaken a review of the specialist research literature in this field as well as focusing on a in the metal-working industry. From the information thus obtained he has highlighted three obstacles that stand in the way of treating workplace accidents as a source of useable knowledge.

First, there are fundamental structural barriers, which are related to the organisational system in which news and data concerning an accident are not disseminated beyond those immediately affected by the incident. There are inter-individual barriers between line managers and staff for instance. Thirdly there are barriers that arise because of the behaviour and response to the accident of those directly involved or affected, so-called intra-individual barriers.

"To learn from accident experiences, organisations must create mechanisms to foster knowledge from the onset and to elicit changes based on that information," Neto explains. He points out that if these "resources" are not fully exploited, then the barriers cannot be circumvented and accidents will be repeated. He concludes that the of a knowledge system that would allow organisations to focus on internal and external case studies and encourage reporting of accidents, causes and outcomes across the whole organisation would improve understanding of workplace accidents and elicit changes more efficiently.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

More information: "Workplace accidents as a source of knowledge: opportunities and obstacles" in Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, 2013, 1, 376-389

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Speed cameras do reduce accidents, say researchers

Sep 12, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at the University of Liverpool have developed an accident prediction model which proves that speed cameras are effective in reducing the number of road traffic accidents by 20 per cent.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

8 hours ago

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...