The Psychology of Accident Prevention

The Psychology of Accident Prevention

Julius Akpong.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), about 270 million fatal and non-fatal work related accidents occur globally every year and about 2.2 million deaths (the size of a small country) occur from accidents and ill-health. Research has proven that 90% of all workplace accidents are caused by unsafe acts which range from violations to errors and mistakes, all forming the major components of the human factor issues in occupational safety and health. This is the reason why we are more concerned about the psyche in this work, as we believe that it is the foundation of every accident no matter how little. It is my firm belief that when individuals’ skill and competence meet sanity, caution, moderation, stability and motivation, we would almost have wiped out 90% of accidents occurring in the workplaces. Modern occupational health and safety should concern itself with this motivational pre-work behaviour based safety induction proposal which is advocated for.
In the human – machine interface, accidents can rarely occur just because a machine feels like misbehaving, faults in machines or accidents occur because of either negligence or incompetence from operators or design errors from the manufacturers.
This means that if we can get ourselves to reduce the potentials for failures and improve safety integrity levels in human behaviours, we can break grounds. Safety pep talks for every job has to be made a must, the quality of the inductions has to also be considered.
Psychic safety advocates thorough inductions which include (especially in the case of pilots) some intervention in thought process and any background personal frustrations which might interfere with safe thought processes and predispose one to an atmosphere of depression in which the value they place on their lives and those of others is diminished gradually.
The Health and Safety Executives in the UK proposes the following easy ways:

How can i communicate effectively?

  • First impressions count. Show enthusiasm, and deliver a clear message about the importance of health and safety standards on site.
  • Know your audience. If English is not your workers’ first language then think carefully about how to get your message across.
  • Keep it simple and be consistent with your messages! Use short, straightforward, simple words and phrases. Avoid slang words or jargon.
  • Demonstrate respect. Listen to what your workers have to say, and show you are listening through your body language.
  • Think about the tone of your voice. Workers are more likely to listen if you vary the tone of your voice.
  • Think about the pace of your delivery. It’s natural to rush when you are nervous. Take the time to slow down.
  • Use open questions to check understanding. Ask your listeners to run through their understanding of what you have said. If you ask ‘Do you understand?’ people tend to say ‘yes’ even when they mean ‘no’.
  • Some people may need more explanation than others. Give yourself plenty of time. If you rush you may come across as impatient or not interested and listeners may not feel able to ask you any questions.
  • Keep it positive! Focus on what workers can do to create a healthy and safe working environment instead of what can go wrong.

How should i deliver toolbox talks?

  • Explain why you are having a toolbox talk in a way that will help your workers relate to the topic you want to cover.
  • Prepare what you are going to talk about and any materials that you are going to use. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website has a number of free materials including downloads.
  • You may find it helpful to include a laptop or DVD player, employee pocket cards and leaflets, or a flip chart and a pen.
  • Get feedback on the impact, messaging and content of the toolbox talk. Ask workers what they thought about it; perhaps design a short feedback form.
  • Consider asking another supervisor or manager to observe one of your talks.

Accident causation is deeply rooted in our cultural practices, feeding habits, behavioural preferences, choice of words, relationships and our inactions. We tend to feel very good about certain situations just because we can find other people to blame for things like infrastructural decay, corruption, incompetence in public offices, etc.

These and religion are at the root of the accident causation triangle in west Africa, and any serious government can attempt to solve these myriad of cultural issues by deliberate ethical re-orientation agenda, which would begin like the plan with which Ebola was handled together with enforcement efforts. The bus conductors and other boys have to be stopped from hanging over buses in motion with doors open, the set standards for these vehicles which convey our very important citizens to and from their important homes and jobs must be safeguarded, as this movement is essential to the development of the economy of the nation.
A certain level of sensitization needs to be created to help people handle public assets with care, otherwise, all planned developmental efforts are still subject to fail as the amenities would come under the same stern hostility faced by the existing ones; this would not portend any sustainable development.
People who do menial jobs in buildings and those who hire them must be aware of the minimum allowable standards of personal protective equipment to be used on every site, and government through the relevant agencies working side by side with the safety professionals bodies in the country must so publicize these ethics that even the smallest child on the street is aware of them. We once had ‘Nigeria: good people, great nation!’ I am a strong advocate for such clauses to return to the indisputable giant of Africa, as they have a way of creating the consciousness of what we should be, rather than negative advocacy. With this, we would maintain our streets, keep our roads clean, reduce accidents and increase our speed through the national development trajectory.

Conclusion
Everyone has some value to add to the growth of Nigeria. It is important for safety professionals to look deeper into the area of mind dynamics as this has a huge impact on workplace safety. An unstable mind, whether it is that of a Manager, supervisor or Technician, is the beginning of a sequence of latent events leading to an accident. The psychology of incident prevention is a deliberate psycho –hazard identifier which when adequately implemented can lead to the development of any society through the enforcement of sustainable work cultures, preservation of lives and improve societal happiness.

 

Julius Akpong is a seasoned Chemist with many years of experience in HSE across Pharmaceuticals, Oil and Gas, power generation and construction. A member of the Chemical Society of Nigeria; member of the British Psychological Society;  Technician member IOSH, UK; member ASSE and Member ISPON. His quest for excellence in OHS practice has led him into psychology and mind dynamics. He is currently researching into global psychic safety concerns towards improving human and systems reliability. 

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