Occupational Safety

The errant or unplanned release of energy results in workers being injured or even killed.

There are such a myriad of safety hazards facing employers and workers within the workplace. It is difficult to select the most important hazards and thus err by leaving out ones that others believe to be important.

Trauma is, by definition, an injury produced by a force (violence, thermal, chemical, or an extrinsic agent). Occupational trauma transpires from the contact with or the unplanned release of varied sources of energy intrinsic within the workplace. Most workplaces are a plethora of energy sources from potential (stored) energy to kinetic (energy in motion) energy sources. These sources may be stacked materials (potential) or a jackhammer (kinetic). It is the sources of energy that are the primary causes of trauma deaths and injuries to workers.

Trauma-related events are a lot easier to observe and evaluate. This is why trauma events are often given the most emphasis.

  • • Trauma occurs in real time with no latency period.
  • • Trauma cases have an immediate sequence of events.
  • • Outcomes are readily observable (only a few minutes or hours have to be reconstructed).
  • • Root or basic causes are more clearly identified.
  • • Events allow for easy detection of cause-and-effect relationships.
  • • Deaths and injuries are not difficult to diagnose.
  • • Deaths and injuries are highly preventable.

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the results of the annual workplace injury and illness summary for 2010, it indicated that traumatic workplace injuries numbered 2.9 million (94.9%) of the total workplace injuries and illnesses (3.1 million). The National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2010 indicated that 4,547 workers died in the workplace. These numbers are provided to indicate why occupational safety deserves attention within the American workplace.

Why does occupational safety as a term merit a focus point in occupational safety and health? Because it is the following:

  • • Doing things in a manner so that no one will get hurt and so the equipment and product will not get damaged
  • • The implementation of good engineering design, personnel training, and the good common sense to avoid bodily or material harm
  • • The systematic planning and execution of all tasks so as to produce safe products and services with relative safety to people and property

Occupational Safety and Health

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  • • The protection of persons and/or equipment from hazards which exceed normal risk
  • • The application of techniques and controls so as to minimize the hazards involved to a particular event or operation—with consideration to potential personal injury and/or damage
  • • A process employed to prevent accidents both in the area of conditioning the environment as well as conditioning the person toward a safe behavior
  • • The way to function with minimum risk to personal well-being and to property
  • • The art of controlling exposure and/or hazards that could cause personal injury and property damage
  • • Controlling people, machines, and/or the environment that could cause personal injury or property damage
  • • Performing daily tasks at the workplace in the safe manner in which they should be done, or when this is not possible or a lack of knowledge exists, seeking the necessary knowledge and assistance
  • • The elimination of foreseen hazards and the necessary training to prevent accidents or provide limited acceptable risk to personnel and facilities

The reasons why occupational safety is needed can be viewed and described in many different ways. Nearly all of these definitions include property damage as well as personal injury. It shows that the thinking is in the right direction—that safety consists of a total loss-control activity.

Since the causes of accidents/incidents are known, there's no such thing as new accidents, just new victims.

There are two forms of indirect cause. They are unsafe conditions and unsafe acts. Unsafe acts are relevant to workers' behavior, which will be addressed in later parts of this book. There are many factors that have the potential to be safety hazards. See the following list for some examples of safety hazards.

Sources of Safety Hazards

Abrasives

Emergencies

Acids

Environmental factors

Biohazards

Excavations

Blasting

Explosives

Blood-borne pathogens

Falls

Caustics

Fibers

Chains

Fires

Chemicals

Flammables

Compressed-gas cylinders

Forklifts

Confined spaces

Fumes

Conveyors

Gases

Cranes

Generators

Derricks

Hand tools

Electrical equipment

Hazardous chemical processes

Elevators and manlifts

Hazardous waste

(Continued)

Occupational Safety

Sources of Safety Hazards

Heavy equipment

Pressure vessels

High voltage

Radiation

Hoists

Respirators

Hoses

Rigging

Hot items

Scaffolds

Hot processes

Slings

Housekeeping/waste

Solvents

Ladders

Stairways

Lasers

Storage facilities

Lifting

Stored materials

Lighting

Transportation equipment

Loads

Transportation vehicles

Machines

Trucks

Materials

Ventilation

Mists

Walkways and roadways

Noise

Walls and floor openings

Platforms

Welding and cutting

Power sources

Wire ropes

Power tools

Working surfaces

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