The safety side of everyone is seeking an injury free existence; a “zero injury” outcome.
Yet, it seems appropriate to many to challenge such a “zero injury” initiative on the grounds that such is an unrealistic expectation. The counter argument of proponents simply states that “zero” is an exact expression of everyone’s desire, so the question becomes “why not seek what is desired by all?”
Think about it. Personalized it sounds like the following statements.
I do not want to be injured! My family wishes me to be injury free in all that I do, especially in my vocation. My employer implores me to work injury free, if not from a relationship perspective at least from a practical perspective. To have an injury to an employee is an unwanted event if only purely from the cost of dealing with the aftermath of an injury. My supervision wishes me to perform my hours at work while using safely the tools provided. Informed investors in capital projects, sometimes called Owners, wish all to go well; for the work to be completed on schedule, and if for no other reason, since an injury is a work delaying event, desires the facility to be constructed with injury free effort. It is easy to see that injury laden work is always fraught with inefficiency and waste.
So there you have it; the practical reasons for a worker to be injury free range from a purely family relational and humanitarian devotion; to an injury free breadwinner to reasons that are quite monetary in motive.
Given a thorough examination, the observer can readily see that the full range of “injury free worker” motives can be quite varied even in the family setting. Also given the Organized Labor situations existing in many places, the Union Business Agent and Union Officers wish for the workers represented to be injury free.
In the general sense humanitarian concerns for our fellowman causes all to wish a safe workday for all.
Yet despite all these, variously motivated reasons, it remains true that “injuries happen.”
If then, “injuries happen” where then is the logic that suggests that “Zero Injury” is an achievable event. The answer is in the basics! The answer is “because it is already happening;” all the time everywhere. Yes, “Zero Injury” is the norm! That is, unless an employer finds worker injury occurring every minute of every day, which in and of itself is not a reasonable proposition since all workers are continually seeking to be free of injury, then zero injury is being achieved in the here and now by all.
“Yes, Zero Injury is the norm.” In the USA for instance the OSHA/BLS national average for injury in 2012 in construction was only 3.6 recordable injuries per 100 employees per year. Such a number means that 96 employees worked injury free for the entire year. Zero for 96 employees out of 100. Another way to view this is to say that out of 100 workers less than 4 get injured on one of the 250 workdays contained in a work year. Then simple math says that there were 246 injury free days; Zero!
The “Zero Injury Concept” approaches safety in the above manner. Simply stated it is employers saying to themselves and their employees that zero injury is what is wanted.
The not so “apparent” immediate question that comes up sounds as follows. “If it is true that all want an injury free workplace why are we going around accepting some number of injuries every year and then saying we have met our goal of say ywo (2) injuries, (per 100 workers per year) therefore we are a success.
Some would suggest that we use this management approach out of a fear. We are reluctant to set our sights on that which we clearly desire for fear of failure. We look back and see that it has never been done, at least in our company, and conclude therefore it will never be done.
Such a goal setting mind set ensures failure, in any enterprise. To make our safety efforts more acceptable we set goals to improve under the banner of continuous improvement. Oh, continuous improvement is not a bad thing in and of itself, but such is where we place our conscience and our goals and we march on, year after year viewing some number of injuries to our workers as acceptable. If we think we cannot, we become resigned to failure and failure becomes an accepted norm.
As we march, year after year, we keep doing the same things in the same way and wishing for different results. (1 – Ben Franklin paraphrased)
Yet there has been discovered a different drummer, a different cadence, a more pure and humanitarian and yes, profitable way to manage safety in a workplace. These using this discovery have defined the term “safety commitment” in an entirely new and revolutionary way.
They are asking for a “Zero Injury commitment” approach to managing safety from managers and from workers that they will work injury free day by day!