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Investigate 'close calls'

A person who makes a mistake and does not correct and share it is making another mistake.

An accident is any event that might result in death, injury or damage to property. Many accidents occur without causing injury or damage at all. We call these “close calls.” But these “close calls” are just as serious as those in which someone is hurt. In many cases, the only difference between a close call and a tragedy is just a matter of luck or inches.

The unreported “close call” cannot be investigated, or its cause corrected. It becomes a time bomb, waiting to be triggered again. Next time the results might not be so fortunate.

It is just as important to bring to the attention of your supervisor and fellow employees the cause of your close call when it is a method of doing a task. For example, a concrete finishing company routinely used four employees to lift a heavy piece of machinery. One employee complained that his back often ached after lifting it and the others agreed. Now it is company policy to use six employees when the machinery is moved. An even better way would have been to develop a mechanical means to lift the machine. No one really knows if an injury would have occurred, but the employees were aware of the possibility and did something to prevent it.

It is generally accepted that for every 600 close calls, there are 40 minor accidents and one serious accident. Many times the close calls are repeated over and over before a serious accident finally results. Several years ago, a carpenter was killed when the load of a crane slipped and landed on him. The crane’s load had slipped several times earlier in the week, but the operator failed to report it, because it hadn’t caused any damage. By reducing close calls, we also reduce more serious accidents.

Sure it might be embarrassing to admit mistakes, but the bottom line is, when you report hazards and methods of working that caused a “close call,” you are preventing an accident for someone else.

 


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