In an attempt to reduce workplace injuries and accidental damage to facilities and equipment, managers take one of two approaches: They address and prevent accidents, or they address and prevent the circumstances in which accidents are more likely to occur. (The most effective efforts involve both approaches.)

For example, in an attempt to prevent slip and fall injuries, the first approach examines the speed at which employees walk through a certain area, or the behaviors employees demonstrate while navigating a high-accident zone. But the second approach examines all the larger factors that contribute to the higher incidence of falls in that area, for example, the dryness and condition of the floor, visibility and the presence of obstacles, or the broader reasons why employees might feel compelled to rush through the area (deadline pressure, etc.).

As a manager in the materials handling sector, you do everything you can to invest in safe lifting equipment and train employees to use the equipment properly. But are you also making an effort to reduce the conditions that increase risk?

Organizational problems

These are systemic, fundamental problems within an organization that may initiate a cascade of circumstances that ultimately lead to injury. They include rushed or ineffectual training programs, strong performance-related pressure that causes employees to dismiss safety concerns, or insufficient investment in safe, functional equipment and facilities.

Behavior and operation

Employees who speed through their tasks, overload equipment, or engage in horseplay can increase the potential for accidents. So can poor communication, which can lead to missed or misinterpreted traffic and safety signals.

Workplace design

Areas with higher levels of accidents and incidents should be examined with special attention to design Are the aisles too narrow? Are the turns to tight? Is the visibility poor? Are employees being asked to cover too much ground in an unrealistically short amount of time?

Equipment issues

While examining the causes that create high accident risk, consider the tasks and expectations required of your equipment and make sure the equipment can handle these tasks. For example, forklift loads lifted to greater heights or carried at full height can increase risk. Make sure the size, capacity, and age of a forklift can accommodate the demands placed on that lift. Once the equipment matches the job, create a maintenance and service schedule that will keep the equipment safe and fully operational.

For more on how to keep employees safe by managing the equipment and environment of the workplace, contact the experts at Liftow.