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Workplace accidents: Where unsafe conditions meet unsafe acts

H.W. Heinrich was an American pioneer in the field of industrial safety. The principles he laid out in his groundbreaking 1931 book "Industrial Accident Prevention: A Scientific Approach" are still discussed and in use today.

One of Heinrich's assertions was that 88 percent of workplace accidents are caused by unsafe acts. A recent article about on-the-job injuries says that Heinrich's number is debated, but that the premise is sound: unsafe acts cause accidents that result in injuries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration agrees that unsafe acts cause accidents and injuries. The federal agency notes that "it is our experience that unsafe acts of employees are often known by management and that they are often allowed to proceed without remedial action."

By "remedial action," OSHA is referring to two things: disciplinary action and training. Clearly, when an employee is properly trained in the use of heavy equipment, for instance, that training reduces the likelihood that the equipment will be used in unsafe ways that might result in major injuries to the equipment operator or fellow workers.

An expert on safety training urges employers to investigate accidents and find out if and why employee training was inadequate. She lists some questions for employers to ask themselves:

  • Did the training match the correct procedures for the job?
  • Did the training take into account the worker's education and language skills?
  • Were employees in training encouraged to ask questions?
  • Did the training include relevant demonstrations of how to perform tasks safely?

It is important for North Carolina employers to understand the root causes of accidents resulting in serious injuries.

It is also important for those employers to recognize the importance of workers' compensation benefits to injured employees. When those benefits are denied, morale, workers and workers' families suffer.

An experienced workers' comp lawyer can help you fight for the benefits you deserve.

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