Posted: August 14th, 2013
Common decisions made in investigating accidents
In his book, Goetsch outlines several accident investigation mistakes as follows. Failure to probe a near miss that refers to an accident that almost happened is a mistake. Another mistake is making the ineffective correct action towards a mistake. People do this mistake because of a superficial accident examination (Goetsch, 2011). Goetsch lists the allowance of biases that cloud judgment as mistakes in investigating accidents. Investigators normally fail to be objective and forget to use the facts to make a rational decision concerning an accident. Related to the previous point, poor time keeping in accident investigation cases is another grave mistake (Goetsch, 2011). The earliest an accident is probed, the better as more time allows for the disruption or loss of evidence that would be helpful.
The next mistake during the investigation is failing account for human nature. This is where an investigator is convinced by the guilt or innocence displayed during cross-examination (Goetsch, 2011). Incompetence by the examiner constitutes the next mistake. Failing to learn the necessary techniques, skills and abilities to conduct a comprehensive probe creates erroneous results. Allowing political orientations to cloud the judgment in an investigation, conducting a shallow investigation and allowing conflicting objectives to confuse the probe are the last mistakes noted by Goetsch (Goetsch, 2011). Of these ten mistakes, failing to learn the investigation methods would be the most serious one as it means there is not much an examiner can do to help solve the case (Goetsch, 2011).
Leading Causes of Death in the United States
Within the United States, the leading causes of death are as follows: obesity, smoking, congestive heart failure, cancer, stroke, occupational accidents, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Termed as occupational fatalities, these deaths occur in the workplace when employees perform work-related tasks. While in most developed societies, occupational fatalities have been on the decrease since the introduction of safer machinery and safety measures such as OSHA, there have still been about 4,000 work-related deaths by 2011. The main purpose of occupational health is to endorse and uphold the utmost degree of mental, physical and social well-being of employees in all professions. However, in most places of work, these safety regulations and protocols are seldom observed. The absences of suitable employee training and declining to introduce and implement the use of safety equipment are recurrent causes of occupational fatalities. In some instances, workers do undergo safety training, but communication barriers stop the member of staff from completely comprehending the safety procedures. Deaths can also be caused by lackluster supervision offered by incompetent workers or employees who have taken on a duty for which they were not properly qualified. Haphazard worksite organization, recruitment and preparation issues, impracticable policies, procedures, and workplace norms can all contribute towards occupational fatalities.
Accidents in the present day and in history
In the early 1900s, workers in most professions were facing extremely high health and safety hazards while working. Presently, the rates of occupational fatalities have dropped significantly to a level so much so that several industries can cover each year without a fatality. When compared to the 1990s, it is evident that the previous periods were risky ones for workers (Tierney et al, 2006). The declines in fatalities can be credited to numerous, interconnected factors, including changes introduced by management and labor groups to enhance employee safety and by academic scholars who investigated and come up with safer and affordable options in the workplace (Goetsch, 2011). Changes in the technology and innovation also contributed significantly to lower death rates in occupations. For example, in the mining industry, the use of safer demolition explosives, computerized toxin detection systems and advanced earth moving machinery have all lowered the number of workers dying from respiratory diseases and poisoning. Administrative changes have also promoted safer working conditions. In this relation, the Organizational Safety and Health Act were very influential in introducing several provisions that were mandatory for every public and private organization. Through OSHA, employees were able to work in environments that were free from known hazards to safety and health (Goetsch, 2011).
Problems experienced in implementing safety and health programs
The most common problem in implementing a safety and healthy program is poor understanding and appreciation by the workers. Employees at all levels of the organization may find it difficult understanding why safety is a vital matter and their role in contributing to a workplace safety program actively and effectively (Friend & John, 2007). It can be difficult to communicate such information and approval to the entire organization. Training can solve this issue. Implementing a workplace safety plan takes up a lot of productive time and effort. Time is a barrier because it is always limited (Goetsch, 2011). It will take careful planning and reorganization of company procedures to train people or implement a safety plan. Poor clarity over issues concerning safety and the implications of injuries and accidents is another major problem. The company needs to and define communicate expectations about safety in a clear and elaborate way. Financial difficulties are seldom absent in the implementation of workplace safety programs (Friend & John, 2007). The reason for this is that implementing an effective program will require funds to be used in the training sessions, purchase of safety equipment and other expenses. Lastly, if I were to manage stress in the workplace, I would propose a retreat program for all employees that will have teambuilding and stress management training.
Comparison of Systems and Combination Theories of Accident Causation
The systems theory of causations argues that the possibility of an accident happening is determined by how several interrelated components within a workplace system interact. The fluctuations in the trends of interaction can intensify or reduce the likelihood of a disaster occurring. Of these system elements, stress has been isolated as one of the influential factors. Stressors can confuse the judgment during collection of information, weighing threats, decision-making processes. Conversely, the combination theory of causation attempts to explain how occupational accidents occur by stressing that single theories cannot satisfactorily explain every circumstance. Instead, it proposes a combination of several approaches in solving workplace problems. The systems theory is more elaborate and efficient in explaining why accidents happen. In most organizations, several factors combine to create an accident. It may start with negligence but the addition of poor maintenance of machinery and non-compliance with regulations will cause an accident. The assumption in the systems theory is that it is sometimes too complex (Goetsch, 2011). Conversely, the combination theory has the advantage of using several approaches. This eliminates any limitations or flows that may exist in one theory. However, its strength is also its disadvantage in that the theory is dependent. It cannot fully provide a solution that can be used without further confirmation.
Development and Passage of OSHA
The OSHA Act was formulated and passed by Congress in 1970 after numerous failed attempts to push it through the political setback. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, most employers sought the cheapest methods of production that included denying workers any form of safety measures (Goetsch, 2011). The foundation of the OSHA Act was the Safety Appliance Act that sought safety equipment in all workplaces (Reese & Edison, 2006). This was followed by mining reforms to include worker compensation regulations that coerced employers to make their workplaces safer. After WWII, industrial production and safety measures increased simultaneously. The creation of labor unions was an important addition to most industries. These unions were responsible for initiating lobbies that championed for increased wages and other forms of remuneration. However, the chemical revolution was the final event that propelled safety and healthy issues among workers as being urgent and overdue. Led by President Nixon, a large part of the bills that would eventually form the OSHA Act was introduced to congress. However, these two bills were not mandatory but rather advisory in nature (Reese & Edison, 2006). The efforts by Republicans finally produced a bill that was accompanied with an enforcement agency. This was the foundation of OSHA’s authority and comprehensive nature (Goetsch, 2011).
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