The challenge of less-prominent serious injuries

A growing challenge many businesses face is the prevention of serious or fatal injuries that are not very common. Such a challenge demands a new approach, according to a white paper from BST, an Ojai, CA-based consulting firm and research group.

Issued in August, the white paper notes declines in minor occupational injury incident rates are occurring at the same time serious injury and fatality rates have either remained flat or increased.

The findings suggest that the causes of serious injuries and fatalities are different from the causes of less-serious injuries, all minor injuries do not have the same potential for becoming serious injuries, and reducing serious injuries will require a different strategy than reducing less-serious injuries, the paper stated.

“While many organizations are aware that some non-serious, nonfatal injuries have a high potential for far greater harm, few have sufficient understanding of where to look for these types of injuries and the root cause analysis that is required to illuminate them,” the paper also noted.

The paper cites OSHA-required recordkeeping as an important driver in improving safety, but the current system does not distinguish between injuries that have the potential to be serious or result in death and those that do not. As such, companies relying exclusively on that data may be unaware of injuries that have the potential to become more serious or kill a worker.

Instead, the paper recommended establishing a strategy to prevent serious or fatal injuries by examining data found in injury reports, near misses, safety observations and audits.

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