Have you ever gotten injured on the job? Have you ever accidentally damaged a piece of equipment, or someone's finished work while performing yours? Have you ever encountered a near miss, where given a slight shift in time and distance, something bad could have happened? I am sure the answer to those three questions lean towards an agreeable "yes"; however, did you report it when it happened? The answer may not be the same.
There is a myriad of reasons why incidents such as property damage, near misses, spills, and injuries go unreported. A major reason is often the individual's pride. Most people do not want to admit their mistakes to others, especially at work. They may also fear the outcome of sharing what occurred with a supervisor or safety team member.
This fear may come from being afraid of being disciplined, or what others think, or the repercussions of the incident. Another reason a person may not want to report an incident is because of the paperwork or energy involved in doing so. There are many reasons why an individual may not want to share what happened to them, but this should never be the case.
So why is it important to report any type of injury or incident?
- Prompt medical attention may be needed to ensure a minor injury does not become worse.
- Incident reporting provides a process in which the situation can be corrected in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
- When a minor incident or a near miss is ignored (not reported), the workplace is at a greater risk for a more serious incident to occur.
- Documenting all incidents and injuries allows us to track patterns, realize trends, and discover anomalies so we can improve our working environments.
- Your feedback and knowledge of the incident is key to implementing better safe work practices and improving our safety culture.
A safe workplace starts with you, your involvement counts, not only in reporting incidents that have already taken place but also in preventing them. A near miss incident is just as important to report as an incident. If you see an unsafe condition, unsafe action or an accident that can be prevented, report it. Reporting of a near miss is not an admission of guilt or error, but rather a method of identifying a future incident.
NO MATTER HOW MINOR YOU FEEL THE INJURY OR INCIDENT MAY BE, YOU ARE REQUIRED TO NOTIFY YOUR SUPERVISOR AND COMPLETE AN INCIDENT REPORT IMMEDIATELY BY USING THE HUDSON BAY EMPLOYEE INCIDENT REPORT.
Seven Common Accident Causes
Consider this statistic: 80 out of every 100 accidents are the fault of the person involved in the incident. Unsafe acts cause four times as many accidents and injuries as unsafe conditions.
Incidents occur for many reasons. People tend to look for "things" to blame when an incident happens, because it's easier than looking for "root causes", such as those listed below.
- Taking Shortcuts: We've discussed this over the years and agree that shortcuts are nothing but an increased chance for an injury to yourself or co-workers and the time you might save does not compare to the time spent recovering from an accident.
- Being Over-Confident: Confidence is a good thing. Overconfidence is too much of a good thing. "It'll never happen to me" is an attitude that can lead to improper procedures, tools, or methods in your work. Any of these can lead to an injury.
- Starting a Task with Incomplete Instructions: To do the job safely and right the first time you need complete information. Have you ever been sent to do a job, having been given only a part of the job's instructions? Don't be shy about asking for explanations about work procedures and safety precautions. It isn't dumb to ask questions; it's dumb not to.
- Poor Housekeeping: Whenever you walk through a jobsite, housekeeping is a key indicator of everyone's attitude about quality, production, and safety. Poor housekeeping creates hazards of all types. Good housekeeping involves both pride and safety.
- Ignoring Safety Procedures: Purposefully failing to observe safety procedures can endanger you and your co-workers. You are being paid to follow our company safety policies; not to make your own rules. Being "casual" about safety can lead to a casualty!
- Mental Distractions from Work: Having a bad day at home and worrying about it at work is a hazardous combination. Dropping your "mental" guard can pull your focus away from safe work procedures.
- Failure to Pre-Plan the Work: There is a lot of talk today about Job Hazard Analysis and Pre-Task Plans. They are an effective way to figure out the smartest ways to work safely and effectively. Being hasty in starting a task, or not thinking through the process can put you in harm's way. Plan your work, and then work your plan.
"IT IS BETTER TO BE CAREFUL 100 TIMES THAN TO GET KILLED ONCE." - MARK TWAIN
Involving the Right Person
There are times when you will not have what you need to complete a task safely and correctly. Whether it is the proper training, tools, knowledge, time, materials, support, equipment, etc., there is a lot you need in place to do any one work task correctly and safely. It is vitally important to take the time to get the right people involved depending on what you need to get your work done.
Scenario's when to involve another person:
- You realize you were provided the wrong materials for a work task. It is necessary to stop and talk with a supervisor to get the correct materials to avoid any issues later on.
- You are alone but you need to lift a heavy, awkward object. Stop work and seek out a co-worker who can help you lift it, eliminating the risk of a sprain/strain injury.
- You are working near another trade, and their work affects you and the work you are trying to complete. Stop work and make sure there is clear and constant communication with the other contractors to ensure neither company's work is negatively affected nor someone is put at risk of injury.
Often, we do not want to slow down production or progress to ask a question to get the things we need to complete a job safely. Whether it is fear of negative judgment from others or having too much pride, it is important to get past that to be able to feel comfortable asking for help.
It may take a few extra minutes to get someone else involved, but it could save hours of lost production or an injury. Be an approachable person at work, so others feel comfortable coming to you for help. When someone else is injured, or production is lost due to a mistake, everyone loses. Work as a team to ensure everyone has what they need to complete their assigned work tasks successfully.
NO ONE HAS ALL THE ANSWERS. IF YOU DO, YOU ARE UNDERPAID AND UNDERUTILIZED. THE BOTTOM LINE IS WE ALL NEED HELP FROM TIME TO TIME. TAKE THE TIME TO DO YOUR WORK EFFICIENTLY AND SAFETY. IF THAT MEANS STOPPING TO INVOLVE THE RIGHT PERSON, THEN DO SO. YOU HAVE THE TIME TO WORK SAFELY AT HUDSON BAY INSULATION, IF YOU FEEL YOU CAN'T, PLEASE CONTACT OUR SAFETY TEAM.
Practicing a Conversation for Life
Construction is a unique field and Hudson Bay Insulation is a unique company. We spend more working hours with those on a job site or in the office than with our families sometimes. Friendships are made and though we may share intimate conversations about our wins and our losses or the unfortunate passing of a friend or family member, we never really talk about suicide. Why is that?
I think we can all agree, conversations about mental health are not easy to start, they just aren't. We chose as a company to fight this battle and we will continue to have open and honest conversations about suicide in construction.
We can learn the basic steps, but unless we actually practice, and put them into our own words, we are likely to dismiss and ignore the warning signs that someone may be experiencing a mental health crisis.
Notice, Ask, Listen, Support, and Follow-Up.
Let's conduct a practical exercise, you notice that someone on your team has been going out to the bar a lot after work. Their attendance is getting worse and they always seem to be distracted or careless with their actions and are mentioning how helpless they feel.
- Tell them you have noticed something is wrong. What types of things might you say?
- Ask them if there are ways you can help.
- Let them know that there are people who can help, often times, they might just need someone to listen to them.
- Offer to do something with them outside of work.
- Check in with them after a few days to see how things are going.
- Escalate intervention if no improvement is seen in attitude or behavior. Consult with a supervisor or refer them to crisis help lines or other mental health professionals.