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Workplace safety is more than having procedures in place

“Safety first!” This may be the motto at your place of employment. There may be safety procedures in place to help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries; employees may be encouraged to follow safety protocol. But many workers may find that despite existing procedures, incidents are still occurring.

Are employers even enforcing safety procedures? One example comes to mind: a man who works at a manufacturing plant suffered a serious neck injury after being struck in the head by a piece of flying metal. The injury occurred because his supervisor did not follow the safety protocol that was in place.

This type of accident could happen anywhere. Workplaces may establish safety protocol and even spend a significant amount of resources training their employees. But over time, the procedures can become muddled and former habits can become standard procedure. This can be even more of a challenge if a supervisor is encouraging employees to follow a different set of instructions.

Deviating from established safety protocol may not seem like a big deal. It could take less time and doesn’t require learning a new procedure. Even if there are concerns about safety violations, workers may not feel comfortable raising the issue to their supervisor. Employers may insist that their workplace is safe because they have procedures in place, but if they are not being followed workers can get seriously injured or even killed.

The man in the example mentioned earlier suffered the neck injury several years ago. Since then, he has undergone a number of different neck surgeries. Remnants of the incident still remain: he is unable to fully move his head, struggles with vertigo and suffers hearing loss. These injuries would likely have not occurred if the supervisor had been adhering to the correct process.

Source: Victoria Advocate, “Injured Alcoa worker raises concerns about plant,” Allison Miles, Nov. 4, 2013.

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