With the rapid growth in the elevator industries, the organisations should make sure that their OHS systems should be effective. In many cases the risks involved in the workplace cannot be removed but the organisation should make sure that most of the risks are mitigated using a plan .A plan is always needed to resolve a problem .In spite of taking preventive measures ,accident do happen. When dangerous accidents occur, the safety of elevator comes into question. The impact of the accidents would be very high on the industries.
Accidents normally occur when there is a small flaw in the system .The error might range from human aspects to the working system. Accidents must be considered as a learning curve. The organisation should learn from the mistake rather than covering it up.
To effectively resolve an issue pertaining to the accident, the following steps can be employed: (Job Hazard Analysis (OSHA) 2005; Accident Investigation (CCOHS) 2006; Small Business Handbook (OSHA) 2009; Job Hazard Analysis (OSHA) 2005)
1. Accident investigation
2. Accident analysis and remedial action
3. Injury management system
By employing the above techniques the organisation would be in a position to resolve or smooth things out efficiently.
An effective accident investigation will look at the cause and effect of each part of the work system .The main objective of any accident investigation is to find out the facts that might have led to the accident and to prevent such accidents from occurring again by learning from the mistakes. A successful investigation not only determines the cause of the accident but also answers to the entire how and why questions.( Accident Investigation (OSHA) 1990;2006)
Roles and responsibilities:
It is very necessary for assigning the roles and responsibilities as part of the OHS system as it would avoid confusion .By defining the roles it's possible to assign the resources and responsibilities effectively.(Section A2: Accident Investigation Procedure(Princeton University) 2007)
Cause for the accident:
There are different causes for an accident .The causes can be divided into 3 categories: (Accident Investigation (OSHA) 1990;2006)
1. Basic cause 2.Direct cause 3.Indirect cause
The causes of an accident can be explained using the following chart:
Improper management safety policy
Risk work environment
Unplanned events like release of hazardous materials or injury by not wearing PPE
From the case study it is clear that the policies and regulations (standard procedures) were not followed appropriately .So this concludes for the cause of the accident as the basic cause.
This is carried out by the investigation team who have prior experience in handling similar situations. The procedures can be detailed as below. The tasks and the description of the tasks with respect to case study are highlighted. (Accident Investigation (CCOHS) 2006; Small Business Handbook (OSHA) 2009; Job Hazard Analysis (OSHA) 2005)
Defining the objectives of the investigation : Elevator accident
Selection of team
Selecting the team for investigation: Supervisors with the investigation team
This normally constitutes many tasks which are consolidated before commencement of investigation. The information is provided to the team.
Details of the accident: Lift
Standard operating procedures
Details of procedures to be followed during the investigation
Information of the site
List of workers who were at the site when the accident happened
Sequence of events
The events which led to the mishap
Site visit and inspection
The team visits the site and gathers information for the analysis
Interviewing the witness
The witness are interviewed to find information about the worker and to gather insights
Determination of flaw
Cause for the accident is determined
Recommendation of corrective action and provision of report
Remedial action is provided in the form of a report
For effectively analysing an accident different problem solving techniques are employed. By using the techniques it is possible to analyse the accident which would aid in making further recommendations. In other words an accident analysis is performed to increase the effectiveness of the solution and it also measures the feasibility of the solution.
Sequence of events:
For an accident to occur there are certain events which would have taken place .By analysing the events it is possible to come to conclusions. In the following chart the events are characterisized on basis of the case study. (Viner 1991)
Pre-event: This contains the information which leads to the accident.
Contact event: This provides the information regarding the place and reason for the accident
Injury event: It constitutes the severity of accident which may be a small injury or sometimes death of an individual.
(Developed from Viner D,1991)
It is clear from the above sequence of the events that the accident occurred because of the psychological factors/issues. Psychological issues plays a very important role in the OHS system. Accidents in most cases occur due to the interference of Psychological issues. The psychological factors normally consist of: Stress, fatigueness and personal commitments. Human performance normally depends on theses factors. The factors influence the output of an individual. It becomes difficult for a person to focus on his work if he experiences psychological issues.
Keeping the case study in mind it is clear that the worker had to reach home early for his daughter's birthday , for this reason shortcuts were taken .This is the last thing which he was supposed to do .A person must never mix personal issue with work. The organisation can also be blamed for this accident to have taken place because of the fact that it got the worker into such a situation. Maybe the worker was offered a reward as he was working on a weekend which implies that greed also played a significant role and it might have been a wrong approach taken by the organisation.
Accidents are normally caused by human error. As the saying goes 'No person is perfect', it is clear from the case study that the accident occurred because of human error. Human errors lead to an accident or an injury. It normally depends on the situation.(Viner 1991)
(Developed from Viner D, 1991)
In situations where human error occurs because of other events or in sequence to another event (like flaw in the work system) then it normally leads to an injury but in cases where incidents happen due to human error alone it leads to an accident.
The organisation cannot point its finger on its workers in case of an accident .The main objective of the investigation is to make sure that such an accident should never occur again. Recommendations should not be made on the disciplining the workers but instead the entire system should be reviewed. For this purpose an effective injury management system can be incorporated which increases the effectiveness of the OHS system.(Reese 2001)
Injury management system:
The organisation's main objective would be to avoid the risk by taking preventive actions. There are many cases where the employees are injured during work. The OHS department should make sure that the injured employee returns to work as soon as possible .Both the employer and employee gains from effective injury management. If a skill employee is involved in an accident it might delay the work at the place. The best solution is to engineer the system in such a way that person returns to work quickly. In certain cases when a injured employee is on a long term leave, this leads to loss of ability to work which might result in loss of morale and financial crisis. During this period the organisation must have a policy by which it can support the injured worker.(Grammeno 2006)
In addition to the injury management system, a review program has to be implemented such that the system can be reviewed from time to time and necessary changes should be made .The system has to be reviewed after every injury/accident. If there is a flaw in the system, remedies have to provide.
The organisation must take corrective measure to improve its system. By incorporating the different techniques it is possible to attain an effective OHS system. The remedial actions are a result of the analysis of the issues and part of the review process. The remedial actions (based on the case study) which can be employed by the organisation are:
The organisation must not force any worker to work overtime and it must not attract the workers for working overtime using rewarding techniques. Overtime should be considered only if it's a necessity.
Backup of resources
The organisation must always have a backup of man power .The resources i.e. manpower must be readily available for disposal.
Provision of safety watch
A safety watch has to be provided for the person working in confined spaces (elevator shafts).The safety watch should monitor the entire process and should be given the power to stall the work if he thinks there is a glitch in the system.
Avoidance of complex systems
The more complex the work system is the more chances of an accident to occur.
Training and awareness
Frequent training programs should be provided with a awareness campaign which portrays the risk involved
The organisation must provide social and financial help for a worker in cases where he is injured by an accident
------ From the above incident it is clear there was a small flaw in the safety management system. Why do you think a safety management system forms an integral part of the company? Why is it necessary to have risk management and human resource management as part of the safety system?
From the evident information of the case study it is clear that there is a small flaw in the system which has to be rectified immediately. The severity/consequence of a small error in the system would be very high. The elevator organisations must ensure the safety of its worker and also its customers. As there are many workers in the elevator industry, the organisation should manage the OHS systems effectively. As a result of an error, when an accident occurs, the workers will definitely develop fear which might lead to increased absenteeism and lower productivity. For this to not happen the organisation must review the system by incorporating new strategies to reduce the occurrence of a flaw in the system.
There are a variety of methods by which the OHS system efficiency can be improved, one of best techniques is by incorporating a rigid risk management and human resource management system. For an OHS system to perform well the link between risk and human resource management must be very strong.
Risk management forms a critical element in the safety system. The organisation should make sure that they:
Elimination: Getting rid of the cause of the risk
Containment: Reduce the likelihood of the risk
Mitigation: Counter measures are developed for the risks which are bound to occur
(Developed from Grammeno,2006)
In addition to these above methods there are three approaches towards effective risk management in an organisation:
Safety approach to risk in complex systems:
One of the main risks is the presence of complex systems particularly in the elevator industries. Accidents normally occur due to the presence of complex systems. The likelihood of risk and its severity is directly proportional to the complexity of the elevator systems on which workers perform their operations. As there are a lot of tasks involved in an operation there are chances of a worker getting confused. Lack of insufficient knowledge and experience can lead to misinterpretation. In the case of complex systems, it becomes difficult to monitor the process as there is less number of human resources available .The organisation should employ sufficient amount of experienced and skilled people to work on the complex systems. (Johnston,2003)
Uncertainties due to speed and scope of changes in risk conditions:
As risks are predictable to a certain extent there is uncertainty pertaining to the fact that whether such a risk exist in the near future or not? Will the outcome of risk worsen?
The organisation mainly manages risk based on data obtained from past experiences and records. In this case the organisation should manage risk in a proactive manner. This is done by:
a. Monitoring the forces which cause the risk from time to time
b.Analyse the risk relationship and then develop a change management system which makes necessary changes in the system when there is small change of risk. (Johnston,2003)
Effective Risk control:
By employing different risk control techniques it is possible to decrease the severity and impact of a risk. The different techniques are:
Human Resource management:
HR management plays a very important role in the safety system .It constitutes the organisational context and it analyses the worker level for glitches. A small error in this system can alter the OHS system.
Organisational context of control:
The organisation is made up of a hierarchy system; the hierarchy depicts the flow of power in the work system.(Zanko,Michael)
The organisation should minimise the occurrence of a hazard. It should take the necessary decisions which when enforced as guidelines should improve the OHS system.
In many cases the organisation performs a feasibility study before they come to any conclusion regarding the improvement of a safety system. For example : If there is a profit of 100,000 AUD made in a year by an organisation , the management normally decides to invest on new equipment or make new products or it might use the money for expansion rather than using it to improve the system. The perception i.e. cost based should definitely change.
By improving the safety management system it is possible to reduce the risks involved. This can be done by:
1. Employing more OHS representatives and provide good induction training
2. Increased workforce (Backups)
3. Updating PPE from time to time
In most of the instances the power of taking the judgements lies in the hands of corporate management .Employees at the worker level in spite of identifying a certain hazard cannot do anything as they do not have power. This situation has to be improved which can be done by incorporating a two way communication process. By employing a two way system it is possible to: (Fuller,Colin W )
1. Understand the concerns of workers/subordinates
2. Judgements can be discussed before making them.
3. Quality and productivity of the worker output increases as the workers are part of the system.
4. Workers will get highly motivated as they are given an opportunity to make suggestions for improvement.
The organisation must develop trust among the individuals .It must develop a multidisciplinary approach in order to achieve the objective. One of the approaches is by employing motivating strategies among the subordinates. Motivational factors play an important role in the system. The perception towards safety varies from person to person .For this the organisation should develop a culture which values safety. (Reese 2001)
Motivation plays an important role in the worker's behaviour. By providing the right motivation at the right time it is possible to change the worker's perception towards OHS. By changing the behaviour of the workers it is possible to achieve a safe working environment.(Reese 2001)
Planning the Motivational approach:
The organisation should set the goals and should be in a position to guide the individuals to reach the goals .The goal being the achievement of a safe working environment. In order to achieve the goal, the organisation must state who is responsible when there is failure in safe work performance. When an incident occurs, there are 2 ways of approaching the issue: (Reese 2001;Hopkins,Andrew 1945)
a. Blame the victim approach-Workers responsibility
b. Blame the system approach-Managerial responsibility
By using the latter approach it is possible to increase the level of trust and understanding of the goals by the workers.
Factors affecting motivation:
Behaviours of an individual and attitudes affect motivation. Change in behaviours of an individual is needed in most cases to reach the goal. Certain strategies can be used on workers which can be used to develop interest in attaining safe work environment. (Reese 2001)
Workers have great self respect. By praising them and by providing them with rewards, promotions and authority or responsibility it possible for them to develop an interest towards system.
When a worker makes a mistake, instead of criticizing him in public, the worker can be made to understand the outcomes of the work privately.
Encourage employee involvement which can be done in the following ways:
Self management/regulation: The workers must be capable to manage themselves in situations when there is a problem to have one on one conversation with the superiors.
Co-determination: Workers should be made to work with supervisors.
Work groups: By forming workgroups it is possible to address the entire group rather than one individual .Guidelines and objectives can be stated easily.