Workplace safety lapses continue to occur despite the development of preventive engineering solutions. Employers reported 2.9 million nonfatal worker injuries and illnesses in 2016, according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. More shockingly, more than 5,100 employees died on the clock over the same 12-month span. While both of these figures constitute historical lows, room for significant improvement exists. Environmental health and safety stakeholders can catalyze progress and see further reductions in worker injury and fatality rates by putting into place formalized incident management strategies and the tools that support them.
Understanding incident management
The concept of incident management encompasses a variety of preventive and reactive workplace safety strategies and solutions, according to EHS Today. These processes hinge ondata – specifically risk assessment information that covers the many inter-dependencies that exist within an operation. For example, when an industrial firm understands that minute administrative workflows in purchasing directly affect hazardous material management processes, it can ensure that acquisition personnel acquire the individual protective equipment needed to keep employees safe as they handle caustic raw material or byproduct. This is an example of a preventive incident management process.
“OSHA distributed more than 58,700 violations in 2016 and assessed financial penalties totaling over $1.4 billion.”
Reactive functions unfold following an injury – these include emergency medical, claims management and long-term disability management services. In addition to these activities, firms with strong incident management strategies support worksite investigation practices. This allows them to understand the variables that led to a specific workplace safety lapse and collect insights that can be used for preventive purposes, according to OSHA. Again, data is the key here, allowing operational and EHS leaders to learn from their mistakes and develop and deploy improved workflows that not only bolster productivity and protect employees but also lead to reductions in expenses associated with workers’ compensation payouts and fines. OSHA distributed more than 58,700 violations in 2016 and assessed financial penalties totaling over $1.4 billion.